In our course text, Trenholm and Jensen (2008) refer to relational prototypes as “an idealized image of how things should be” (p. 29). The authors continue to add that, according to Wilmot and Baxter, prototypes consist of three characteristics; a natural language label, criterial attributes, and communicative indicators (p. 34).
The following paragraph further explains the author’s thoughts on relational prototypes:
Some theorists believe that relationships are more than just behaviors. These individuals feel that relationships are cognitive constructs, explaining that a relationship is the way we think about our behaviors. These people argue that when we interact with another person, we form a mental image of the interaction and compare it to a relational prototype. (Trenholm & Jensen, 2008, p. 29).
WHAT TO DO:
Discuss a relationship you have with a person where your own relational prototype may differ from how the relationship actually exists.
Example: Consider a relationship with a friend who has recently been married or had a baby. How has the relationship with the “newlywed” or “parent” changed?
Specifically for this question you will want to discuss:
1. How has your relationship with the person changed?
2. Why did it change?
3. How did expectations play a part in that change?
IN ADDITION…Please include discussion on the two questions below in regards to your chosen relational prototype:
A. Relate Wilmot and Baster’s three prototype characteristics to your relationship (the natural language label you assign, the criterial attributes, and the communicative indicators)
B. Has the media or society in general influenced your “definition” of what the relationship should be
• directly reference and elaborate upon specific ideas, terms, and theories found in the text, class notes, and/or online research. This shows an understanding of the material for the assignment.