Formal - Informal - Technical


Edward T. Hall has developed a theory which treats culture as a form of communication. (Anthropology)

There are three basic modes or levels; formal, informal, and technical.

Formal Informal Technical
Learning: Correction Example Principle
Awareness: Unaware Automatic Conscious
Patterns: Tradition Custom Convention
Insight: Experience Intuition Analysis

Formal activities are acquired by precept and admonition.  "I don't know how I know it is, but I know it when I see it."  Correction is made with overtones of "good" and "bad" affect.  No reasons can be given to say why what is wrong is wrong.  Deviation from the correct form is literally "unthinkable"; it does not occur to us to deviate.

Informal activities are acquired through example.  Models are imitated.  The models are used without knowledge of patterns or rules which govern the models.   Alternate models coexist.

Technical activities are acquired through the explicit communication of analyzed structure and form, and of applicable principles and rules.

Man progresses from formal belief to informal adaptation and finally to technical analysis. (p. 28)

Source: Edward T. Hall, The Silent Language, 1959, Anchor Books Edition (1973), Doubleday, New York.

This page was updated by Ralph Kenyon on 2017-08-20 at 00:18 and has been accessed 15645 times at 108 hits per month.