Social information processing: Theories of SIP

There are numerous definitions of Social Information Processing (SIP). For example, you can consider SIP as the way people process, take in, and make sense of information from the social world. So, schemas, stereotypes, heuristics etc. are all theories of SIP (ways of understanding/explaining how we process information).

Theories of social information processing(SIP)

SIP theory describes a set of cognitive-emotional mechanisms specifying how the way in which children interpret a particular event influences how they will respond to that situation. As a result of prior social interactions, children develop cognitive schemas that influence their processing of social information in new situations.

Six steps model of social information processing

SIP theory is a third theory of conduct problems. It focuses on the way children and often particularly teenagers process information in social situations. Social information processing theory suggests that children with disruptive behavior problems perceive, interpret, and make decisions about social information in ways that increase their likelihood to engage in aggressive behaviors (Dodge & Crick, 1990). Such difficulties with social processing could be due to a history of attachment problems or the presence of coercive cycles in the home. Nicki R. Crick and Kenneth A. Dodge (1994) have proposed the following six steps in a model of SIP:

  1. Encoding of external and internal cues
  2. Interpretation
  3. Selecting a goal
  4. Generating responses
  5. Evaluating responses
  6. Enacting responses

SIP mechanisms deal with specific links among environments, cognition, and behavioral outcomes.

The cues filtered-out theories(errors)

Unlike some theories that are rooted in other theoretical perspectives from various fields of study (e.g. Communication Accommodation Theory), SIP was conceptualized, particularly by addressing the shortcomings of other theories that addressed communication mediums. These theories are therefore termed cues filtered-out theories. Cues filtered-out theories refer to theories that address the lack of nonverbal cues as being detrimental to online relationship development. Walther’s research critiqued past methodological and conceptual problems with theoretical thinking. He subsequently worked toward establishing an interpersonal communication theory that more accurately reflected the intersection among communication, online environments, the self and relationships. Two of those theoretical perspective that influenced Walther’s theory are social presence theory (SPT) and media richness theory (MRT). Walther believes that both SPS and MRT suffer from a limited understanding of relational life online.


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