The Social Penetration theory was Irwin Altman and Dalmas Taylor's way of explaining how people get to know one another. There ideas was the people get to know each other through self-disclosure. Exchanging bits of information is the key. The more personal the information that is shared, the deeper the social penetration.
Altman and Dalmas also created the "onion" concept. This concept compares humans to onions in that they both have layers. As social penetration occurs, layers are peeled away to reveal the true person underneath. For more information, visit my blog entry Ogres Have Layers.
I titled this entry "Social Penetration in Romantic Moviesies," because I feel that romantic comedies have a pattern of social penetration. It always starts with the boy and the girl. Usually, the boy and the girl despise one another. Then, along comes a situation where they have to endure one another's company. During that time, they share information that allows them to better understand each other. This social penetration always ends in a lovely, romantic ending.
For example, the newly released movie Leap Year follows this pattern.
Anna is the girl who is uptight and "annoyingly American." She has plans to follow an old Irish tradition and propose to her boyfriend on February 29th in Dublin, Ireland. Unfortunately, she has a million complications along her journey.
Declan is the boy from Ireland who helps Anna get to Dublin. They do not get along at all! However, there comes a point in their journey where they stay at a Bed and Breakfast. Declan and Anna work together to make dinner for the B&B owners who were so kind to let them stay. Information is exchanged, and the social penetration theory is set into motion. I don't want to get away too much since it was just release on DVD this week, but I can say that as they share information about themselves, they get to know one another on deeper levels.