What is self-disclosure?


"Please listen carefully and try to hear

what I am not saying,

What I'd like to be able to say,

What for survival I need to say,

But what I can't say." - Unknown


 Remember: "The story always represents the storyteller." Robert Brehm

The process of getting  to know one another is indeed complex.   We, and others, not only make assumptions about each other but also we, and others, can be deceptive. Although impression research has taught us that the attribution process is largely an unconscious process, giving and receiving feedback from others may assist us in a more  accurate appraisal of  ourselves and others.   The quality of the feedback is related to the amount of self-disclosure we  receive and share with others.

Self-disclosure[1] is defined as a psychological term as sharing with someone information which helps them understand you.

A particular point is that the self-disclosure is most revealing when the sharing is in the present and least revealing when the sharing is about the past.

Self-disclosure is defined as sharing how you are reacting to a particular situation, or person in the present moment of time. The degree of self-disclosure is illustrated in two dimensions:

1) information that is difficult or easy to share, and

 2)  sharing information that is more or less revealing of yourself..[2]

Click on hyperlink for details: Self-disclosure can be noted as information  on a continuum that is least difficult and revealing to most difficult and most revealing..

Least difficult and least revealing----------------> Most difficult to most revealing

Rank the following statements from most self-disclosing to least . Use a  scale of 5-1,  with (5 ) noted as  being the degree of   the least amount of self-disclosure to ( 1) being noted as the most.

See the example below:

Notice the change of verb tense from past to present as the self-disclosure becomes more  difficult to discuss..   Self- disclosure can be  also be noted as to the degree of directness  or indirectness.


___5___I tell you how my former students felt about the class, but none of them are present.

In sentence number (5)  the material discussed is least difficult  and least revealing as it refers to a generalization of a group and to a past situation.

___4__I tell you how my former students feel about the, class but none of them are present.

In sentence number ( 4 ) the material is more difficult and more revealing as the verb tense changes to the present time but the generalization of the group is still used in the sentence.

___3___I tell you how I felt about my former students, but none of them are present.

In sentence number ( 3 ) the story teller ( the speaker ) speaks for himself but still uses a past tense situation.

___2___I tell you how I feel about you as one of my students.

In sentence number ( 2) the story teller ( the speaker who is I ) uses a present tense verb but still targets the focus of the topic on another person.

___1___I tell you how I feel about myself.

In sentence number ( 1) the story teller speaks in the present time about how one feels about oneself. This is the most revealing information about oneself and the most difficult to discuss.

Now see if you can give some self-disclosure and then rank  the level of  self -disclosure ( 5-1 ) from the least difficult material to discuss to the most and from the least revealing about self to the most.

Do you begin to see now how "the story always represents the story teller"? What is the difference in the levels of self disclosure indicated by the numbers?






                        Questions to answer regarding self-disclosure:h

When do you think self-disclosure is most appropriate and when do you think that it is least? ( See text [ Johnson ] or search the internet )

 ( Some helpful hints here: What happens when self-disclosure.... is  not reciprocated.... is not part of an ongoing relationship....does not take into account the effect it has on others.....does not focus on what is going on at the present time...is used as a kind of "hit and run" tactic? )

What do you think  are some of the benefits of self-disclosure? Be sure and define the term self-disclosure, as it is used as a technical term in  this course

Hints: To receive full credit for your assignments send email in complete standard English sentences, provide operational definitions of words, illustrate by example, cite sources used in your answers, and provide reasoning when giving your own opinion and support it with your own experience and examples. Do not copy articles without permission and please summarize in your own words and indicate what you have learned from them. 

Indicate the assumptions that you are making, if you intend the opinion to represent anyone, or anything, other than yourself, or your own experience. Indicate any supporting data that you have in making your assumptions and what experimentation would be necessary in order to strengthen the argument or your claim. 

If you present information as fact, please indicate the source and the method used to establish the fact. If you are using a theoretical hypothesis, please state it and the method used for the examination or proof of it.

 If you are stating an apriori assumption, or affirming a commonly held "belief system", please limit your discussion to your own experience and indicate how you apply it successfully to yourself. Please include an opposing argument to your affirmed " belief system" and  indicate with your reasoning as to how it is not as applicable to you as is your own belief system. 

 1. David W. Johnson, Reaching Out: Interpersonal Effectiveness and Self-Actualization 8th ed. Boston: Allyn and Bacon 2003, p.46
 2. Don E. Hamachek, Encounters with Others: Interpersonal Relationships and You, New York: Harcourt Brace, Jovanovich College Publishers, 1982 , page 223

Email: rbrehm@msn.com 
Copyright 1998  [Robert Brehm]. All rights reserved.