The learning theory proposes that people are able to form meaning in situations by applying known information structures stored through past experiences. In other words, this theory proposes that a person, through influences of culture, experiences, beliefs and background form information structures that serve as the framework for responding to situations. Additional information may be acquired but this frame of thought usually remains constant. Using this as basis for his approach, Delia describes Constructivism in communication as being rooted individually and constructed socially.
This approach poses that a person makes sense of the world though systems of personal constructs (Constructivism). It is the ability of one to align culture, cognition and communication in responding to situations. Constructivism of Delia is essentially concerned with the cognitive processes that precede the actual communication (Delia, OKeefe and OKeefe). The approach looks into the exchange of information between the communicator and the receiver and the multiple truths that go along with it.
A healthy exchange therefore depends greatly on the ability of the communicator to send information that a receiver can creatively interpret and understand with consideration to complexities of messages (Delia, OKeefe, and OKeefe). Constructivism further poses that meanings evolve and change (Bentley). Through social interactions, constructs are created and impressions and interpretations are learned. Meaning in this instance is socially shared. Both communicator and receiver are influenced by a small portion of their personal constructs in interpreting events.
The constructivist believes that the complexities in interpersonal cognitive exchange is highly dependent on how advanced a persons social-cognitive functioning is. Essentially this proposes that the more a person develops sophistication in cognitive functioning, the more likely this person will be able to stir the flow of communication towards a more substantial route. The constructivist also believes that the construct system of a person generates communication-and goal-oriented beliefs (Delia, OKeefe and OKeefe).
These beliefs provide a guided discernment of situations to form a strategic behavior towards them. And since communication is basically a field that is founded on persuasion, acquiring a sophisticated construct system is imperative. At the same time a person possessing complex cognitive functioning is most likely to produce person-centered messages that create a more engaging exchange between two people. This is beneficial when applied to situations that prove to be tense or at the least taxing.
The precept of Constructivism as an approach to communication is that it is socially developed however individually founded. People develop their set of constructs based on their exposure to culture, beliefs, experiences and background. These constructs are relative to the person and are as diverse as the general population. Having said that, how then would Constructivism help in law enforcement? In the previous paragraphs several examples of recent documentation of police brutality were sited.
There are several common threads in these examples. However, three of the most common of these threads will be discussed for this paper. First is race. Many of these recorded incidents involve racial minorities. The United States plays host to many adult immigrants, often who are unable to speak English. Moreover, usually immigrants build their own communities wherein the use of their mother tongue is prevalent. Therefore, older immigrants have a more difficult time adapting to the new language. Interaction with other races becomes an ordeal.