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Applying Communication Theory for Professional Life

Applying Communication Theory for Professional Life
A Practical Introduction

Fourth Edition

January 2018 | 288 pages | SAGE Publications, Inc

Updated Edition of Bestseller!  

Applying Communication Theory for Professional Life is the first communication theory textbook to provide practical material for career-oriented students. Featuring new case studies, updated examples, and the latest research, the Fourth Edition of this bestseller introduces communication theory in a way that helps students understand its importance to careers in communication and business. Real-world case studies within each chapter are designed to illustrate the application of theory in a variety of professional settings.

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CHAPTER 1. Introduction to Communication Theory
Learning Objectives

What Is Communication?

Dance’s Definitions of Communication

Contexts of Communication

Communication Competence

Concepts, Models, and Theories

Three Types of Theory

Evaluating Theory


Key Terms

CHAPTER 2. Theory Development
Learning Objectives

Theory–Research Link

What Is Research?

Research Methods in Communication

Social Science and the Humanities

How Theories Change and Grow


Key Terms

CHAPTER 3. Cognition and Intrapersonal Communication
Learning Objectives

Cognitive Process

Attribution Theory

Uncertainty Reduction Theory

Expectancy Violations Theory

Cognitive Dissonance Theory

Summary and Research Applications

Key Terms

CHAPTER 4. Individual and Social Approaches to Communication
Learning Objectives

Nature Versus Nurture

Social Role Theory of Gender

Emotional Intelligence and Transformational Leadership

Message Design Logics

Interactional Perspective on Workplace Generations

Summary and Research Applications

Key Terms

CHAPTER 5. Interpersonal Communication
Learning Objectives

Interpersonal Communication Defined

Politeness Theory

Social Exchange Theory

Dialectical Perspective

Communication Privacy Management Theory

Summary and Research Applications

Key Terms

CHAPTER 6. Culture
Learning Objectives

Culture Defined

Hofstede’s Cultural Dimensions

Communication Accommodation Theory

Anxiety/Uncertainty Management Theory

Conflict Face Negotiation Theory

Summary and Research Applications

Key Terms

CHAPTER 7. Persuasion
Learning Objectives

Persuasion Defined

Elaboration Likelihood Model

Theory of Planned Behavior

Inoculation Theory

Narrative Paradigm

Summary and Research Applications

Key Terms

CHAPTER 8. Group Communication
Learning Objectives

Group Communication Defined

Functional Group Decision Making


Adaptive Structuration Theory

Symbolic Convergence Theory

Summary and Research Applications

Key Terms

CHAPTER 9. Organizational Communication
Learning Objectives

Organizational Communication Defined

Systems Metaphor

Organizational Culture

Organizational Assimilation

Organizational Identification and Control

Organizing Theory

Summary and Research Applications

Key Terms

CHAPTER 10. Mediated Communication
Learning Objectives

What Is Social Media?

Diffusion of Innovations

Social Network Analysis

Media Richness Theory

Uses and Gratifications Theory

Summary and Research Applications

Key Terms

CHAPTER 11. Mass Communication
Learning Objectives

Characteristics of Mass Media

Agenda-Setting Theory

Cultivation Theory

Social Cognitive Theory of Mass Communication

Encoding/Decoding Theory

Summary and Research Applications

Key Terms

CHAPTER 12. What Should a Communicator Do?
Learning Objectives

Conclusions About Communication

Conclusions About Influences and Effects

Returning to Communication Competence


About the Authors


Instructor Site

SAGE edge for Instructors, supports your teaching by making it easy to integrate quality content and create a rich learning environment for students.


  • Chapter-specific discussion questions launch classroom discussions by prompting students to engage with the material and show their understanding of key concepts.
  • Sample answers to in-text case study questions make it easy for you to assign case studies to your students and prepare for classroom discussions.
  • Test banks provide a diverse range of pre-written options as well as the opportunity to edit any question and/or insert your own personalized questions to effectively assess students’ progress and understanding.
  • Sample course syllabi for semester and quarter courses provide suggested models for structuring your courses.
  • Editable, chapter-specific PowerPoint® slides offer complete flexibility for creating a multimedia presentation for your course.
  • EXCLUSIVE! Access to full-text SAGE journal articles that have been carefully selected to support and expand on the concepts presented in each chapter is included.
  • Multimedia content includes videos that appeal to diverse learners.
  • Lecture notes summarize key concepts by chapter to help you prepare for lectures and class discussions.
Student Site

SAGE edge for Students provides a personalized approach to help students accomplish their coursework goals in an easy-to-use learning environment.


  • Mobile-friendly eFlashcards strengthen understanding of key terms and concepts.
  • Mobile-friendly practice quizzes allow for independent assessment by students of their mastery of course material.
  • Video and meaningful Web links facilitate student use of Internet resources, further exploration of topics, and responses to critical thinking questions.
  • EXCLUSIVE! Access to full-text SAGE journal articles that have been carefully selected to support and expand on the concepts presented in each chapter is included. 
Key features


  • All case studies now include specific questions about ethical issues associated with the narrative of the case to show how knowledge of theory can help one negotiate these ethical dilemmas.
  • The simulated “Education as Entertainment Theory” includes apps and other new media forms of educational content, keeping students up-to-date with the latest technology.
  • Four new case studies have been added to show students how the theories are tied to recent events. The cases are titled:

1.     “You’re Fired”

2.     “Bad Move”

3.     “Million Dollar Manipulation”

4.     “The (New) Media Culture Wars”

  • New research and scholarship for all theories can be found in the “Chapter Summaries” and “Research Applications” of each chapter.
  • Numerous political examples have been added to reflect the increasingly divergent political rhetoric in the United States.


  • Each chapter focuses on a particular theory, followed by a real-life case study that illustrates the theory's practicality in communication or business settings.
  • Charts and models highlight the central concepts of each theory and engage students.
  • unique synthesis chapter identifies and clarifies common themes among theories within the framework of communication competence.
  • Current examples illustrate how theory is applied to real-life situations to help students understand the relevance of communication theory.
  • Includes the latest research on the efficacy of each theory for greater context.


For instructors

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