Summaries per article with Social Psychology of Communication at University of Groningen 21/22

Summaries per article with Social Psychology of Communication at University of Groningen 21/22

Table of content

  • Primary and secondary goals in the production of interpersonal influence messages
  • The action assembly theory for human communication
  • How can a descriptive taxonomy be used to explore the function of daily talk events?
  • The function of gossiping in creating bonds between people
  • What is the effect of voice intonation on persuasion of health messages?
  • What is the effect of speech accents on interpersonal evaluations?
  • The use of different voice types to have effective interpersonal communication
  • Differences between expressed emotions and truly felt emotions
  • Non-verbal behaviour as communication
  • Different theories of arousal
  • What is the Expectancy Violations Theory (EVT)?
  • What is the Communication Accommodation Theory (CAT)?
  • How are Cell Phone Expectations related to the Expectancy Violations Theory in romantic relationships?
  • The relation between attitudes toward homosexuality and perceptions of the appropriateness of expressing affection
  • Effective communication between cultures
  • 'Individualism-collectivism’ and ‘power distance’ as predictors of the differences between cultures
  • The role of emotion in computer-mediated communication
  • How can we regulate shared reality through conversational micro dynamics?
  • Deceptive self-presentation in online dating profiles
  • Therapist behaviours in Internet-delivered cognitive behaviour therapy
  • How robots might persuade people using vocal and nonverbal cues
  • What is the role of Artifical Intelligence in e-health communication?
  • Social responses to computers
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Article summary of Primary and secondary goals in the production of interpersonal influence messages by Dillard et. al - Chapter

Article summary of Primary and secondary goals in the production of interpersonal influence messages by Dillard et. al - Chapter


What is this article about?

Some people try to influence others in order to reach their own goals. The field that studies this phenomenon is called the study of compliance-gaining. Researchers, however, have criticized this type of study for being underpowered. This paper describes a theory of production of influential messages, by looking through the perspective of a goal-planning-action (GPA) sequence. This means that, if you want to change the behavior of others, you must plan things ahead. By planning ahead, you can adjust your actions.

In the exchange theory approach to compliance-gaining behavior, two goals are distinguished. The first one is that people need to behave in a certain way to reach their desired outcome. For this, one has to be efficient. The next goal is that they have to consider the costs of different approaches. Goals cans be off primary class or secondary class. Primary goals reflect desires to bring about behavioral change in another person. Secondary goals are be divided into four subgoals:

  • Identity goals: These are related to the self-concept. They are internal standards of behavior. They don’t have to overlap with the expectations about how others would behave. These goals derive from one’s moral standards.
  • Interaction goals: These goals are associated with social appropriateness. So, that the things the person says and does are not offensive to others.
  • Resource goals: These are all about increasing and maintaining valued assets. This can be of relational (emotional support, attention), material (money) and physical (health) value.
  • Arousal management goals: People want to maintain a state of arousal within certain boundaries.

Primary goals are more central because they define interpersonal influence situations. Also, there first has to be an awareness of the primary goal before there can be a secondary goal.

What are the experiments in this study?

Experiment 1

For the first study, five versions of a questionnaire were devised and each contained two hypothetical interpersonal influence situations. Each situation contained a description and an example of the fourteen compliance-gaining strategies. For each situation, the participants had to make a judgment as to whether they would or would not use the strategy in that situation. If they would not use the strategy, they had to write down why they didn’t want to use that strategy. The goal of the first study was to prove that people keep their goals in mind while engaging in strategic influence.

Most participants (44%) were concerned with influence goals, 33% with identity goals and only 1% with arousal management goals. The participants explained a lot, which means that they do think about their goals during the use of strategic influence.

Experiment 2

The goal of the second study was to look more at the goal scheme (looking for valid and reliable indices of the goals) and to understand the relationship among goals. A set of sentences regarding goals during interpersonal influence attempts were developed. Participants were asked to recall a situation in which they wanted to change the behavior of another person. That person had to be a good acquaintance. Half of the participants were asked to only take a situation into account in which it was very important that the other person acts exactly as they desired. The other half of the participants had to recall the situation in which they were not really concerned with getting what they wanted. These two groups were also divided in two, because half of them had to recall a situation in which they did succeed to change the behavior while the other half had to recall a situation in which they didn’t succeed in changing the behavior. Then participants were asked to write down their goal(s) in this situation and to write down the dialogue that had taken place between themselves and the other person. After that, the degree of respondents’ concern with the proposed goals was measured. This was done using a questionnaire containing a five-point scale. The data was put together and indices for the different types of goals were found.

Experiment 3

The goal of the third study was to show that goals guide individuals’ planning and actions during interpersonal influence attempts. Influence goals can bring about different behaviors. The goals can also vary in their degree of importance. The greater the importance, the greater the desired efficiency for behavior. The variance of importance will also bring about variation in planning.

Participants got questionnaires about goals and hypothetical situations. They had to write about a moment in which they wanted to change the behavior of others and they had to indicate what effort they put into persuading this person. They also had to try to describe what they exactly had said during the conversation. Researchers had to rate this on logic (what the reason was for trying to change a person’s behavior?), directness (did they explicitly tell the other person to change their behavior?) and positivity (was the message good or bad?). The data showed that important goals led to more planning and logic. When people were afraid to be viewed as negative, they were less direct. When people were concerned about the interaction with others, they showed more directness and planning behaviors. Concerns about a relationship was related to more positive messages.

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Article summary of A cognitive approach to human communication: An action assembly theory. Communication Monographs by Greene - Chapter

Article summary of A cognitive approach to human communication: An action assembly theory. Communication Monographs by Greene - Chapter


What is this article about?

This article states that the cognitive system has developed to facilitate action. Therefore, the article describes the functions of the cognitive system based on the implications for action. The author provides a model of cognitive structures and processes that underly the production of verbal and nonverbal behaviors during interactions.

First, they use a basic observation. This observation refers to that communicative behavior at first a novel and creative, but also patterned and repetitive. To explain, the social behavior of someone often consists of an assembly of repetitive words, topics, themes, and instrumental phrases. However, in every interaction, these elements are used in a unique combination. So, pre-established routines are adapted to immediate circumstances.

What is a model of the communicative output system?

To develop a model of the communicative output system, we have to keep in mind two basic processes of social behavior. These are the selection of old elements, and the construction of novel patterns.

These processes are related to memory storage, retrieval, and utilization. To explain this model, the authors use the approach of ‘cognitivism’.

What is ‘cognitivism’?

In cognitivism, theorists explain how the observed input-output takes place, by referring to the underlying processes and structures that are responsible for input-out processes. Also, in cognitivism, the structures and processes are theoretical entities. Thus, the structures are not always directly linkable to certain brain areas. These structures do have a link to brain areas, but this is not extremely important in cognitivism. Another fundamental aspect of this cognitive perspective is that in order to create predictions, a theory must specify the information structures of the mind and the processes (mechanisms) of these structures. If these properties are not specified, the model is not falsifiable and thus not scientifically correct.

Another important characteristic of cognitivism is that it can be used to create multiple, distinct models of which each can be correct. Thus, in cognitivism the goal is not to create ‘the perfect model’, instead the goal is to create a sufficient model.

Which model is described in this article?

Before diving into the theory, it is important to know that the human mind consists of both conceptual and procedural knowledge. Conceptual knowledge is knowledge about things, and procedural knowledge is knowledge about things that we have learned to do. The procedural knowledge consists of action-outcome contingencies (if we do this, then that happens). The elements of this memory are modular, which means that it is organized on the basis of a large number of elemental units. These elemental units are related to the output part. The action component consists of parameters that define complex behaviors.

These characteristics are important for the procedural memory. It is good that there is a large number of elements, because this means that the system is less complex. If the system was very complex, it would be difficult to produce novel behavior, because it would require a decomposition of complex elements. Also, it would require a lot of storage. Therefore, cognitive theorists concluded that people use “scripts” and “event schemata”. Another advantage of the fact that procedural information is stored as discrete units is that new information can easily be added. So, if a memory system consists of many modular elements, acquiring new knowledge is more easy.

Thus, the elements of the procedural system allow us to produce communicative behaviors. However, not all elements in this store are used during behaviors. This indicates that there is some process of ‘selection’. Before something in a system affects behavior, it must reach a certain threshold of activation. One way this happens is by past experiences that have led to desirable outcomes. If you know that something works well, you might activate this type of behavior. When you used an action in the past and it lead to a desired outcome, a procedural record is formed. Later, when you are in a similar situation, you can use this procedural record. Thus, this is one form of selection.

Another characteristic of the output system is that the output representation contains levels of abstraction. Also, there is a downward goal-setting influence. This influence leads to that abstract levels constrain the output of lower levels.

In sum, this section describes five different axioms (statements).

Axioms

  • Axiom 1: A procedural record is a modular entity that contains a specification for action and an outcome associated with that action.
  • Axiom 2: Each procedural record is characterized by a level of strength reflecting the status of the action-outcome contingency of the record. The strength of any record is a function of its recency, and frequency of activation.
  • Axiom 3: The output representation of anticipated action is a hierarchy of levels of increasing specificity where each level is relatively autonomous in the execution of output demands.
  • Axiom 4: At any moment, a procedural record has some level of activation. In order for a procedural record to impact output processing, the level of activation has to exceed some threshold value.
  • Axiom 5: The activating conditions for any element of the procedural store are defined as occurrence of a goal to which that record is relevant, and the occurrence of any conditions which have proven to mediate the action-outcome contingency contained in the record.

What are the theoretical propositions?

In the section above, the characteristics of a cognitive model of the communicative output system were described. In this section, the goal is to provide a theory of the structures and processes of the output system.

Structural propositions

The authors describe 17 different propositions. First, you read elaborate information. Then, this information is summed in the proposition. So, first you have the information, and then the proposition related to this information.

Proposition  1

Interaction functions: These functions include goals that people try to achieve by communicating with others. There are three types of interaction goals: 1) specific situation-bound goals, 2) desire for a specific interpersonal relationship, and 3) management of personal identity.

  1. Content formulation functions: These functions relate to the formulation of locutionary, illocutionary, and thematic dimensions of behavior.
  2. Management functions: These functions relate to the need for topic continuity and chaining, and interaction initiation and termination which arise in the course of interaction.
  3. Utterance formulation functions: These functions derive from lexical, syntactic, and articulatory requirements for the formulation of intelligent utterances.
  4. Regulatory functions: These functions are related to speaker-turn regulation in ongoing interaction.
  5. Homeostatic functions: These functions relate to the regulation of physiological controlled quantities during interaction.
  6. Coordinative functions: These functions refer to the integration of effector units involved in articulation and nonverbal behavior.

It is expected that each socially competent adult has a number of procedural records that they use for each type of these functions. Each of these records relate to a specific outcome in a particular context. In other words: Procedural records are distinguished according to the nature of the outcome they represent. The outcomes that are relevant for the production of social behavior are the seven types of functions described above.

Another important cognitive structure for the production of communicative behavior refers to the output representation. This presentation if formed from the combination of activated procedural records. As described, this representation is hierarchic. Now, the authors describe four hierarchical levels of output representation.

“Procedural records can be distinguished according to the nature of the outcome they represent. The outcomes relevant to the production of social behavior are: 1) interaction functions, 2) content formulation functions, 3) management functions, 4) utterance formulation functions, 5) regulatory functions, 6) homeostatic functions, and 7) coordinative functions.”

Proposition 2

“The hierarchical levels of the output representation, respectively from abstract to specific, are: 1) Interactional representation, 2) Ideational representation, 3) Utterance representation, 4) Sensorimotor representation.”

Proposition 3

The interactional representation involves a representation of interaction related goals during social situations. So, it is an abstract representation of how interaction goals should be achieved. It includes a characterization of current condition, desired ends, and transition states that link the two. So, it is some kind of plan, that represents a number of states and transitions that lead to goal accomplishment.

“The interactional level represents an assessment of current state plus projected states and transitions leading to accomplishment of interaction goals.”

Proposition 4

The ideational representation is the second level of output representation. The interactional representation specifies a sequence that leads to goal accomplishment, and the ideational representation is used to implement a specific state change. Thus, the ideational representation specifies the content of a particular move or transition. For example, silent pauses during speech. The ideational representation arrives from a combination of procedural records that are relevant to content formulation functions and management functions. Thus, it involves the specification of: 1) propositional content, 2) illocutionary content, and 3) elements of thematic structure.

“The ideational level represents a single move, or transition, in the discourse and contains a specification of propositional content, illocutionary content, and elements of thematic structure”.

Proposition 5

The third level of output representation is the utterance representation. In this representation, syntactic, lexical, and phonological aspects of each utterance are formulated. The role of assembly processes in this level is to implement the content of the ideational representation in a linguistic string. The ideational representation is semantic, but the utterance representation is phonological. As noted, in the ideational representation, the production unit is a ‘move’ or a ‘transition’, and at the utterance level, the production unit is clausal in scope.

“The utterance level represents a single cause, contains a specification of lexical items and their order, and is phonological in nature.”

Proposition 6

The last level of output representation is the sensorimotor representation. In this level, commands are prepared. In the upper level of this representation, there are general motor schemata or programs. These are used to accomplish articulatory, regulatory, and homeostatic goals. In the lower levels, the current environment is analyzed.

“In cases of repeated assembly of a particular complex of procedural records, a unified assembly of those records may be stored in procedural memory.”

Proposition 7

The author states that next to procedural records and output representations, there are also other cognitive structures that are important in output processing.  He states that, just as procedural records may be inferred from past experiences, a small number of assembled representations may also be inferred from procedural memory.  These assembled representations are expected to develop through repeated assembly of a particular set of procedural records. Then, this assembly of procedural records function as one single element. At the interactional representation level, the assembled interactions may be available when routine activity results in accomplishment of desired ends. For example, the restaurant script: the script that people use when they go to a restaurant.

At the utterance level, the specific linguistic strings might be retained, so that no assembly is required at that level. Just as is the case in other elements of procedural memory, these assemblies of procedural records would be activated by a goal, and a set of relevant conditions.

“The activating conditions for a unitized assembly of procedural records are defined by the occurrence of a goal or goal complex to which the assembly is relevant plus any relevant initial conditions.”

Proposition 8

“An assembly of procedural records has a level of strength reflecting the status of the relations among its constituent elements. The strength of any such assembly is a function of its recency and frequency of activation, given that stored-action outcome contingencies continue to hold

Proposition 9, 10, and 11

The author also states that associative links can be developed between procedural records that are relevant to different levels of output representation. These links would then bias the selection of lower-level procedures by combining specific records to more abstract output representations. Then, a stored ideational assembly might be linked to a specific stored utterance. Thus, the move is always implemented via the same utterance. Also, these relations have reflexive properties, which means that activation of a low-level procedural record may lead to the activation of a higher-order record. So, a specific nonverbal behavior may lead to facilitate speech production by activation particular lexical or ideational items. For this proposal, the assumption is that repeated concurrent or serial activation of elements of the procedural store will establish an association between those elements such that activation of one will increase the activation level of the other.

  • P9: “In addition to functionally-based relations between levels of the output representation, there may exist associative links between specific-procedural records of the various levels.”
  • P10: “The strength of the associative links between levels of the output representation is a function of the recency and frequency of co-activation of the linked procedural elements.”
  • P11: “The degree to which the activation of one procedural record impacts upon another is a function of: 1) the level of activation of the first record, and 2) the strength of the relation between the records.”

Processing propositions

To specific the nature of the activation process, three parameters are important: 1) level of activation, 2) the time required for activation, and 3) the demands on processing capacity required for activation.

Level of activation

Proposition 12

This proposition suggests that the most highly activated procedural records are those whose activating conditions are best fit for the current conditions.

“The level of activation of any procedural record is a function of the degree of match between current conditions and the activating conditions for the record.”

Time required for activation/speed of activation

It seems that, over repeated activation, the strength of a record will be increased.

Proposition 13

“The speed of activation of a procedural record is a positive function of the level of strength of the record.”

Processing demands

It seems that retrieval from procedural memory is automatic. So, it requires almost no attentional capacity.

Proposition 14

“The activation of procedural records occurs in parallel with no demands upon central processing capacity.”

However, even though this activation happens automatically, the integration of the activated productions does require processing capacity.

Proposition 15

“The assembly of activated procedural records requires central processing capacity.”

So, the assembly process does require cognitive resources. The factors that facilitate the formation of the output representation are then explained. First, if there are stored assemblies available, the assembly of a representational level is not required. Second, if a move has already been formulated, then no assembly is needed for the ideational level. This proposition is related to the well-practiced routines of people.

Another facilitation of output processing refers to that assembly of output representation in advance of the actual production reduces the load of assembly during interaction. This kind of preparation does reduce reaction times in cognitive and motor tasks. Also, planning in advance improves the fluency of speech, and reduces the amount of pauses.

Proposition 16

“Where stored assemblies or assembly of the output representation in advance of actual production obviates the need for assembly, social behaviors can be output with minimal demands on central processing capacity. The degree of processing capacity demands in such cases is a function of the amount of additional assembly which must be performed at the time of behavior.”

Lastly, the nature of the assembly process needs to be specified. The author states that assembly happens simultaneously across each level of the output representation within the limitations on capacity. Also, in each level, procedural records are serially incorporated, in order of their relative level of activation.

Proposition 17

“Within each level of the output representation assembly proceeds serially in order of level of activation of procedural records.”

What is the conclusion?

This theory uses different domains and describes two basic structures, and two basic processes. Because of the propositions, the theory is useful for describing the cognitive processes of communication.

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Article summary of Constituting relationships in talk: a taxonomy of speech events in social and personal relationships by Goldsmith et. al. - Chapter

Article summary of Constituting relationships in talk: a taxonomy of speech events in social and personal relationships by Goldsmith et. al. - Chapter


What is this article about?

The writers of this article developed a descriptive taxonomy based on four studies and they explored how this taxonomy can be used to explore the functions of daily conversations or speech events.

A speech event is the basic unit of sociality in communication. The current study of communication looks at individuals’ strategies. Although we have learned a lot from previous studies, these studies have not looked at how individual activities relate to joint activities. If you hold a conversation, the other person is important too. The researchers have looked at the individual and the goal-directed function of communication. The researchers use four bodies of research for this study: diary studies, situation studies, ethnographic studies and research on cognitive memory structures.

The writers of this article have developed a descriptive taxonomy in four studies and they have explore how the taxonomy can be used to explore the functions of daily talk events.

Many researchers have used diary-recordings to get information about people’s interactions in daily life. The researchers were interested in how often acquaintances and friends joke around, talk about problems or about nonsense. Studies on social situations focus on the ‘who’, the ‘where’ and the ‘what’ of a conversation.

What were the experiments?

Experiment 1

Researchers wanted to examine a range of speech events in social and personal relationships, to find out how participants described features in their own words and what happenings were salient during different types of events. The researchers collected open-ended diary entries regarding the interactions of the participants. They had to provide as much information as they could, and answer questions about the relationship between the participants, the setting of the conversation, the purpose and outcomes of the interaction, the mood of the conversation, the channel in which the conversation occurred and they had to provide background knowledge.

Experiment 2

The second study wanted to test whether participants from different ages, racial backgrounds and genders would engage in similar types of speech events and whether similar labels would be used in all those groups. Participants were provided a questionnaire that included labels and descriptions of a speech event. The participants then had to indicate the extent to which they would use this term to describe this type of speech event. They also had to indicate to which extent their family members and friends used these terms and the extent to which they were familiar with the terms. Some participants were also asked to write down synonyms, so other labels that have the same meaning for different types of speech events.

Experiment 3

The third study wanted to identify the dimensional structures in the speech event domain. There seem to be twelve dimensions that people use to differentiate among types of talk: important-trivial, serious-fun, informal-formal, deep-superficial, hostile-supportive, awkward-smooth, straightforward-indirect, excited-low key, goal oriented-lacking a goal, difficult-easy, involved-quick and upbeat-negative. The researchers also created a 29-category event taxonomy from the results of the previous study. Participants also received a pile of cards with all the 29 categories on them. They had to create as many piles as they found was necessary to capture their perception on which speech events they felt were similar. After that, they had to fill in a questionnaire about some of the 29 categories. They also had to indicate how familiar they were with these categories.

What are the results?

Looking at all the data from the three studies, researchers can support the claim that a 29-category taxonomy is a reasonable catalogue of the events experienced in social and personal relationships. This was true for all demographic backgrounds. The terms were familiar to the participants. Three dimensions (formal-goal-oriented, important/deep/involved and positive valence) provide a basis for differentiating between types of talks.

The fourth study looked at the frequency of speech events in everyday life and their occurrence in different relationship forms. Participants kept a diary for two weeks and had to write down all the conversations they had with friends, family members, and other persons. They had to write down when the conversation took place, the gender of the participants, the relationship they had with the participant and which of the 29 speech events the event resembled the most. The data showed that gossiping was the most frequently enacted speech event. Researchers think that people do this, so they can maintain relationships. Goal-directed talk (making plans) were also of high frequency. This shows that not only socially based dimensions of relationships are important, but also task-oriented dimensions.

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Article summary of Gossip as cultural learning by Baumeister et. al. - Chapter

Article summary of Gossip as cultural learning by Baumeister et. al. - Chapter


What is this article about?

Our modern world is a complex one. Very good things, but also very bad things can happen. Usually, it cannot be foreseen what will happen and therefore, people might experience problems. There are a couple of things that may make coping with experiences better. One of these things is to learn about the adventures and problems of other people. This is done by gossiping. Gossiping is usually not seen as something positive. People see it as a light form of aggression and as a form of bullying. A lot of psychologists think that people gossip because they want to harm somebody. The researchers of this paper, however, argue that gossiping could also have other goals. So, it might be that deformation of the target’s character is not the primary goal of gossip. It could also possible be that the gossiping has another goal.

Recently, some psychologists argued that gossip is a form of social communication which creates a bond between people. If this is true, then gossiping may have two different functions. The first function is that the bond between the one who tells the gossip and the one who hears it, is strengthened because they spend time, they communicate together and share information. The second function is that gossiping relays information about the speaker to the listener. This can be useful for the relationship between the listener and the speakers. The authors of this article agree with this, but additionally, they believe that gossiping can teach people about culture and society. They state that gossiping is a form of observational learning of a cultural kind. It helps us to hear what mistakes people have made, because then we will be less likely to make the same mistakes. According to the authors of this article, gossiping is a powerful way of transmitting information about norms and rules in a certain culture. This does not mean, however, that every person that engages in gossiping does this to transmit information about culture.

Negative gossiping will probably be more powerful than positive gossip. People are more interested in hearing bad news about other than good news, and they are also more interested in telling bad news about other than good news. The other reason why bad news is more informative than good news is that stories about norm violation are more informative than stories about norm confirmation. From an evolutionary point of view, it is more important to learn about dangers than about personalities. Also, people like gossiping the most about people who hold the same position in social structure (same gender and age). Some researchers see gossiping as a way of providing information to others because gossiping is almost never challenged. Usually, people tell others something and these listeners don’t really challenge this information. Another reason why gossiping is seen as a way of transmitting cultural information is that the listeners can also give their input. So, listeners comment and share their opinions with the speaker. The reason behind gossiping, according to the authors, is to pass on information to help someone or gaining status by showing that you understand social norms.

What experiment was used?

The authors of this article wanted to determine if their thoughts on gossiping were correct. So, is gossip really a way to pass on cultural information? In this study, participants were asked to fill in the most interesting piece of gossip they had heard in the last week, the last month and the last year. The second questionnaire included questions about the gossips that were told in the first part. The participants had to answer why the persons told you the gossip, who the target was from the gossip, whether they had told other people about the gossip, how many people were told about it, how they felt when they heard it, whether the gossip reflected badly on the target and why this was the case, whether they learned something from the gossip that they could use in their own life and whether the gossip was important to the participant (rated on a 10-point scale).

Most of the gossip were about somebody the participant knew, but were not related to (84%). 1% was about family members and the other 15% was about people the participant didn’t know personally. So, it seems that most gossip is about people that the participant knew. However, the authors suggest that this is not sufficient to conclude that the goal of gossiping is to transmit information about others. Instead, the authors think that by talking about somebody that is known to the listeners, adds more power to the story. The listener will maybe remember things better and listen more carefully if the story is about somebody he or she knows.

Most of the gossip (55%) was passed on to others and the average amount of people who it had been passed on was 2-3 others. Most people showed emotional reactions to the gossip and according to the authors this shows motivational significance. Negative emotion was the most common (51%), followed by both positive and negative emotions (26%), only positive emotions (15%) and surprise (4%). Emotion helps with adapting to life events by causing people to think about recent events and learn lessons from these events. Especially negative emotions cause counterfactual thinking. There seems to be a link between negative emotions when hearing the gossip and whether somebody reported to have learned anything from the gossip. The more negative emotions were reported, the more likely participants would say they had learned from the gossip. Negative emotion was not linked to whether the gossip reflected badly on the target. So gossip doesn’t seem to really only promote information about the target. The lessons the participants learned were usually useful general lessons (93%) and a couple were lessons about a certain person (7%). Gossip thus seems to provide people with information about living effectively in the society according to norms.

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Article summary of An experimental test of the relationship between voice intonation and persuasion in the domain of health by Elbert en Dijkstra - Chapter

Article summary of An experimental test of the relationship between voice intonation and persuasion in the domain of health by Elbert en Dijkstra - Chapter


What is this article about?

This article is about health messages. Paralinguistics can influence the way people react to these messages. Researchers have found that the speed, the pitch, the fluency, the intensity and the intonation of a voice affect how persuasive a message is. This article focuses on the effect of intonation on persuasion.

What is known about intonation?

Intonation can be defined as the variance in pitch while someone is speaking. A few characteristics of intonation are listed below:

  • It is used to provide a listener with information about the grammar of a sentence
    • You can hear if a sentence is a question because of intonation
    • People can emphasize certain words (“No, I think HE was the one who did it”).
  • It can transfer emotions
  • It can transfer certain attitudes

Intonation, persuasion and defensiveness

In research, a relationship between intonation and persuasion has been found. This relation seemed to be linear: as intonation goes up, persuasion goes up as well. This is especially true when there’s high involvement of the listener (so when it’s important to him or her). At the same time, there’s evidence that this relationship has an optimum: when there’s too much intonation, source credibility goes down, together with persuasion. So, there is an optimal amount of intonation.

The authors think that the relation between intonation and persuasion is caused by the emotional information the intonation gives apart from the actual message. When people listen to a health message that is relevant for them, two things are possible:

  1. They change their behaviour

According to self-affirmation theory, people want to feel good about themselves. If a health message shows them they are doing something wrong, they feel inadequate. As a result, they change their behaviour to feel better about themselves.

  1. They get defensive

A health message can cause feelings of self-threat. Too much intonation may cause an ‘emotional overload’ and people could deal with this by getting defensive. This defensiveness in turn inhibits behavioural change.

The first option is the preferred outcome, because health messages are designed to get people to change their behaviour. So, when do people change their behaviour, and when do they get defensive? The authors think that there’s a difference between people who think that they are healthy and people who think that their health is poor. People with perceived poor health may perceive the message as more relevant and see it as an opportunity to change their behaviour. On the other hand, people with perceived good health have no opportunity to change their behaviour (since they are already doing the right thing) and thus may show a defensive reaction. They used two experiments.

What was the method of the first experiment?

Three health messages about fruit and vegetable intake were used. The research was done using first year students (130 participants) that received SONA credits. They differed in the amount of intonation (low, moderate, high). The researchers had the following hypotheses:

  • Moderate intonation leads to more persuasion compared to low intonation in persons who think that they are healthy (1a)
  • Moderate intonation leads to more persuasion compared to high intonation in persons who think that they are healthy (1b)
  • There’s no difference the amount of intonation in persons who think that they are unhealthy

The message contained two negative outcomes of not consuming fruit/vegetables: increased risk for heart diseases and cancer. It also contained positive outcomes of higher fruit/vegetable intake: looking more healthy, less skin aging, better concentration and lower blood pressure because of vitamins. The voice wasn’t changed by computer, but naturally, by a woman that was trained in voice recording. This improves ecological validity. Messages with high intonation involved more differences in high and low tones compared to messages with low intonation. The messages all sounded natural.

The researchers used a pre-test and a post-test. The pre-test measured perceived own health status on a six point scale (very good...very bad). Intention to start consuming more fruit and vegetables was measured as well as perceived fruit and vegetable consumption, both rated on a five point scale.

The post-test contained a manipulation check that measured perceived voice characteristics. The dependent variable was measured by asking whether the participant wanted to perform a certain health behaviour within one month, six months or five year.

What were the results?

The manipulation check showed that the manipulation worked: participants perceived significant differences between pitch and intonation in the three research conditions. Hypothesis 1a was accepted: moderate intonation is more persuasive in persons with perceived good health than low intonation. Hypotheses 1b was also accepted: moderate intonation is also more persuasive than high intonation in persons with perceived high health.

Hypothesis 2 was not confirmed. The researchers found an unexpected difference between low intonation and moderate intonation. In people who think that they are unhealthy, low intonation is significantly more persuasive than moderate intonation.

What was the method of the second experiment?

In the second experiment, a self-affirmation procedure was used. The authors argue that self-affirmation makes people feel good about themselves. This causes a state of ‘open-mindedness’, which in turn causes people to face threat, instead of denying it. Study 1 showed that for people who perceived their health as good, higher intonation lowered persuasion effects (see Hypothesis 1b). In study 2, the authors try to reverse this effect by using self-affirmation (Hypotheses 2).

The procedure was the same as in Study 1, but now, half of the participants were exposed to self-affirmation. Participants had to select their most valued domain and their least valued domain out of a list of six options (theory, economics, etc). After that, they had to answer several questions. In the affirmation condition, these questions were often related to the most valued domain of the participant.

What were the results of the second experiment?

Hypothesis 2 was confirmed: persuasion in the high intonation condition (and perceived good health) was significantly higher in the self-affirmation condition than in the condition were there was no self-affirmation. In persons with perceived low health, there were no significant differences. They showed high intention in all conditions.

What can be concluded?

This study showed that there’s a difference between the persuasiveness of a health message depending on whether the participant perceived that he/she was healthy or not and voice intonation. Without knowing a lot about the underlying processes, the authors think that this difference is caused by differences in responses to self-threat. People with low health have something to change, so behavioural change is their response to self-threat. People with high health react to threat with defensiveness. This effect can be reversed through self-affirmation.

Because the underlying processes are not clear, the authors cannot say for sure that self-threat is indeed the underlying mechanism. It could also be the case that intonation changes the clarity of a message. Intonation could also have an effect on source credibility, and through that influence (mediate) persuasion.

There are a few limitations to this study:

  • Even though participants noticed the difference between moderate and low intonation, the outcomes don’t reflect this. It could be that this manipulation was insufficient.
  • The use of a female voice and the fact that this voice was very neutral.
  • The use of students.
  • The use of an intention measure instead of a behavioural measure. Intentions can differ from actual behaviour.
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Article summary of Effects of speech accents on interpersonal evaluations: Implications for counseling practice and research by Fuertes et. al. - Chapter

Article summary of Effects of speech accents on interpersonal evaluations: Implications for counseling practice and research by Fuertes et. al. - Chapter


What is this article about?

Western countries are receiving more and more immigrants. Also, the number of immigrants in the United States who are receiving or providing counselling and services in English is increasing. Some of them speak English with an accent. Recently, researchers have studied the effects of speech accents on clients’ perception on counsellors. Listeners use speech accents as immediate markers of someone’s character and background. This has its effect on behavior towards the speaker. Research has shown that speaker’s accents have an effect on the listener’s evaluation of speaker’s personality, social status, attractiveness and competence. Sometimes, accents can activate stereotypes and discriminatory behavior.

According to the Accent Prestige Theory (APT), accents can have an effect on status and solidarity dimensions. Status is related to things such as education, social class, intelligence and success of the speaker whereas solidarity is related to things such as kindness, trustworthiness and friendliness of the speaker. There has been a lot of research conducted on this topic. Most research shows that people with the ‘standard’ accent of their country are perceived as more prestigious than people with a foreign or regional accent. Higher status is assigned more often to people with a standard accent, even by people with a nonstandard accent. For solidarity, the results are different. Standard speakers give similar ratings of solidarity to standard and nonstandard speakers, but nonstandard speakers give higher solidarity rates to other nonstandard speakers.

What can be concluded?

So, speech accents are associated with social class and the effects of these accents differ in situations. In one study conducted in the United States, White and Black participants were asked to evaluate White middle-class accents, Black middle-class accents and ‘ghetto’ Black accents on a couple of personality traits. The results showed that Whites didn’t rate middle-class Whites and middle-class Blacks differently, but they did rate the ghetto Blacks lower on traits (such as kindness and character). Black participants didn’t differentiate between the three groups. So, it seemed that accents and social class are tied together and that people seem to make judgments based on someone’s class based on their accent.

Another study showed that people with similar accents automatically tend to believe that they hold similar views. This results in that people tend to agree more with people who have accents similar to their own.

Yet other studies showed that the context also has a big impact on accents. One study showed that people find it less ‘irritating’ when someone has a nonstandard accent in an informal setting. However, when it comes to formal settings (like in university), students are willing to drop the class if the teaching instructor is not a native speaker.

Research has also shown that gender and accents are also related. One study showed that Anglo Australian women evaluated Australian-accented speakers just slightly higher than Greek-accented speakers, whereas Australian men showed greater differences in their rating of two different kinds of speakers (and the higher rating for the Australian-accent speakers).

The communication accommodation theory shows that people adjust their accent and use of a language when speaking to someone with a different accent. This is probably with the goal to gain social approval or to build a bond. Research shows that this especially happens in formal settings and that women are better in accommodating compared to men.

Accents can also have an effect on comprehension and the recall of information. If someone’s accent is similar to your accent, you will probably remember things this person says better and you will also understand it better. Students will remember information better and understand it better when the teacher speaks in the same accent as they do. This is because of our limited cognitive resources. When you try to understand an accents that isn’t similar to yours, you pay more attention to unravelling this accent and that’s why you won’t have a lot resources to process what is actually being said.
Another study showed that people remembered news reports conveyed in a ‘normal’ or standard accent better than news reports conveyed in a regional accent. Listeners rated the standard speakers as more intelligent and that’s the reason why they paid more attention to them compared to regional-accented speakers. Also, because the listeners understood the normal-accented speakers better, they perceived them as more intelligent.

Accents may also elicit discrimination. Researchers found that discrimination that usually took place in formal settings, like school and work, was elicited by accents. In informal settings, like the grocery store, there was not a lot of discrimination because people didn’t spend much time there. Accents may also have its effect on hiring. When the job is of high-status, people will give higher ratings to normal-accented applicants. Jobs with low-statuses had a preference for foreign-accented applicants. Speech-accents may also impact the ability to obtain housing. Normal-accented speakers are more likely to obtain a house compared to foreign-accented speakers.

What is the impact of accents on counselling?

So, what kind of impact do accents have on counselling? As stated above, someone speaking in a nonstandard accent in a formal setting will probably be judged more negatively. This may result in a job counselling situation in which the counsellor provides the nonstandard accent speaker with a job of lower status, which does not always fit the capacity of the applicant. Researchers should study this in more detail, because we don’t have a lot of clear data on this topic. Also, another dimension that should be studied is whether accents impact diagnosis. One thing is for sure: clients should be free to express their thoughts in the way they want to. So, if counsellors are accepting of accents, the clients will feel more warmth and trust towards the counsellor. People express their pride and identity through their language and accent. Another thing that should be studied is the impact of a nonstandard-accent speaking counsellor. Clients who do speak in the standard-accent and have a nonstandard-accent speaking counsellor may downgrade him or her and not accept their expertise.

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Article summary of Nonverbal communication across disciplines. Volume II. Paralanguage, kinesics, silence, personal and environmental interaction. Chapter I by Poyatos - Chapter

Article summary of Nonverbal communication across disciplines. Volume II. Paralanguage, kinesics, silence, personal and environmental interaction. Chapter I by Poyatos - Chapter


What is this article about?

We need to use qualifiers or voice types to have effective interpersonal communication. With these qualifiers, the same verbal message can be interpreted in different, specific ways.

Voice modifiers are determined by biological factors (configurations of the larynx, lips, tongue), and physiological factors (muscular tension). These factors are also affected by psychological or emotional variables. There are also sociocultural functions. They are also related to bodily expressions.

Researchers are faced with many problems. For example, a) there is ambiguity in phonetic definitory labels, b) there is also ambiguity in the ordinary speaker’s usage, c) there is a lack of labels for certain effects, d) there is a lack of accurate physiological descriptions that would differentiate effects, e)the application of different labels to the same phenomenon in the literature makes it difficult to understand things such as ‘rough’, f) there is a lack of transcription symbol, g) there are no attempts to represent them in a text with qualifying symbols (for falsetto or surprise).

The authors suggest that individual qualifiers should be analyzed in terms of a) normal and abnormal anatomical configuration of the organ involved, b) muscular physiology, c) phonetic labels (harsh), d) auditory effects (twang), e) voice type or quality (husky voice), f) social label (authorative), g) phonological function (whispered in Hindi), h) paralinguistic function (expressing anger), i) abnormal occurrence (harshness), j) scalar degrees or lack of them, k) concurrent verbal, paralinguistic or kinesic behaviors, and l) transcription or notation symbols for recording voice qualities.

What is breathing control?

Breathing control is defined as the modifications undergone by our speech, which are the result of how we breath. Breathing is not only the result of our physiology, it is also determined by five factors.

  1. Direction. Speech can be eggressive (short utterances) and ingressive (reflex-like verbal reactions of fearful surprise, expectancy or terror, and emotional questioning).
  2. Channel. This is often the mouth, but can also be the pharyngeal and nasal cavities, or a combination.
  3. The flow. This can spasmodic and out of phase with speech (in distressed breathing, states of anxiety, after physical exertion).
  4. The duration of length of the inhalation and exhalation phases, ranging from fast and prolonged to slow.
  5. Respiratory pressure or force. When it is light, then there is a relaxed conversation. When it is strong, there can be interjectional expressions. Sighed speech refers to prolonged inhalations, followed by longer exhalations.

What is laryngeal control?

The neutral mode uses moderate, and regular vibration of the vocal folds. This is called the modal voice. There are different subtypes: chest voice, and head voice (heavy voice).

Whispered voice

There are three types of whispering: soft-whispered voice, normal whispered voice, and forces whispered voice.

  • Phonotary disorders are the result of abnormal vocal fold movements and are called aphonias. There is complete aphonia (total loss of voice), partial aphonia, and intermittent aphonia (voice and whisper alternate during speech).
  • Murmured voice. Murmuring is neither whisper nor full voice. A similar voice is ‘crooning’, which refers to sing in hum or in a low, gentle tone. This is often associated with a sensual attitude.
  • Breathy voice. This kind of voice is close to full voice, but it lets too much air through, probably because of a lack of muscular effort. It is related to emotional reactions, weariness, shock, confusion, and anxiety.

What is glottal stop?

Glottal stop refers to the shortest instance of voice sound. There is a distinction between ‘full glottal stop’ and ‘anterior glottal stop’. A special form of this stop is a glottal catch, which means ‘catching’ of the voice. This is related to the feeling of a ‘lump’ in the throat, nervousness and embarrassment.

  • Laryngealized voice. This is also called pulsated voice, or creaky voice. Chinese language is characterized by this. It can also appear when lifting something heavy, physical pain, and by old age.
  • Falsetto voice. Falsetto is defined as ‘light voice’. It is associated with innocence. It is also used to express emotion and attitudes, and is often present in Black American speech. There are also three higher forms of falsetto: ventricular falsetto (seal voice), flute falsetto (women and children), and a piping voice (high, falsetto voice).
  • There is also whispery falsetto (crying woman and children), creaky falsetto (high-pitched ‘Eugh!’), and whispery creaky falsetto (typical of children, and women who exaggerate innocence).

Abnormal occurrence of falsetto voice is called eunuchoid voice.

What is harsh voice?

Harsh voice involves laryngeal strain and tension, and is related to labels such as intense, grating, metallic, rasp, shrill. It may combine in different ways, such as harsh creaky voice, harsh whispery voice.

Strident Voice and Shrill Voice

Strident comes from the Latin word ‘stridere’ for the sound of crickets and other insects. It is described as a grating, rasp noise. Shrillness is high in pitch and evokes a more penetrating sound compared to ‘strident’. It is used to refer to nonhuman sounds like piercing, high-pitched noise made by a loudspeaker. Squeaking, squealing, screeching, squawking and cackling are also related. Squeaking is defined as a as sharp, shrill, short, and not very loud cry or sound. Screeching is defined as a high, shrill, piercing cry as in terror or pain. Squealing is defined as a shrill, sharp, and prolonged sound to express anger, fear, or pain. Squawking is defined as a loud, harsh cry such as a parrot or chicken. Cackling is defined as speaking or laughing brokenly, noisily, and shrilly.

Metallic voice        

This concept is defined differently, using terms such as ‘sharp’, ‘harsh’, ‘grating’, ‘brassy’, ‘bright’, ‘clear’, ‘clean’, ‘keen’, ‘piercing’. It can be a phonatory or resonance problem.

Forms of ‘roughness’

There are two main types of roughness.

  1. Husky. This type of roughness in women can be viewed as sensual, or as negative (masculine). It can denote different emotions, such as affection, love, but also anger, sadness, sensuality, sexual arousal, and happy weeping.
  2. Hoarse voice. This type of voice is of low pitch and has a restricted range. It can be due to emotion, choking, a cold, or strain. It can also be caused by cancer. There are three types: dry hoarseness (increased intensity and breathiness), wet hoarseness (breathiness, low pitch, and creakiness), and rough hoarseness (low-pitched, and the voice is perceived as two-tone). Hoarseness can be combined with other voice types, such as whisperiness.

What is tremulous voice / quavering?

This type of voice is caused by muscular tremor which produces irregular or pulsating quality, because of uneven vibrato. It is typical of a nervous or emotional speaker. It is often found in literature.

Stammering voice

This is a type of broken speech with involuntary pauses, rapid repetitions of syllables or initial sounds which can arise from excitement, emotion, embarrassment, etcetera. It can also be a result of muscles spams which come from mental conflicts. Stuttering is a pathological from of stammering. 

On tense and lax voices

Tense voice (metallic) is defined as rash, loud, high-pitched and with higher air pressure. Lax voice (muffled) is defined as a breathy or whispery voice, low-pitched, moderate nasality, and is typical of relaxation.

Esophageal control

There are two voice types that are produced by laryngectomized persons without a prothesis. Vocal esophageal voice is known as ‘pseudowhisper’, and ‘pharyngeal voice’. It has to do with air storage in the pharynge and mouth. This type of voice is unintelligible, because there is a lack of consonants. The second type is belched esophageal voice, which is a strong and intelligible phonation which is a bit hoarsely.

What are different voices related to pharyngeal control?

There are six types of voices resulting from pharyngeal control: pharyngealized voice (mocking contempt, aggressiveness), pharyngeal huskiness (emotional stress, laughter), muffled voice (soft, dull, obscure), hollow voice (sounding like a sound made in a cave), faucalization (hilbilly speech), gulping (emotional tension, fear).

Velopharyngeal control

There are different types of nasal voice, which are related to velopharyngeal control: nasal voice (negative type of voice, characteristic of passionate speech, intoxication, laziness). There are two disorders: hypernasality (excessive nasal resonance), and denasality (insufficient nasal resonance, appears in rhinitis, adenoidal voice). Whining voice (high pitch, peevish and low, refers to contempt, stress, fear). A subtype of whining is ‘bleating voice’, which is referred to as the cry of a lamb, sheep, goat. It can be high- or low-pitched. Whimpering is a low whining (broken cry). Twangy voice results when we pinch our nostrils and is defined as a piercing sound which is often used by news vendors to hawk their wares. A moaning voice has a low-pitch and no muscular tension, it is also soft and feeble (‘the wind moaning in the trees’). Groaning voice is a tense and deeper creaky voice. It impeds proper voice articulation. This kind of voice is often reflected in Bible texts. Grunting is a deep, gruff sound in the throat. It has short intervals and often reflects negative attitudes such as disapproval, contempt, dismissal and unbelief. It can also appear when we are making a physical effort. A head-cold voice is defined as ‘a denasalized voice’. Anoidal voice is a voluntary behavior in the adenoidal-gap posture, and is caused by mouth breathing. Nasopharyngeal voice is a combination of oropharyngeal friction and nasalization. It is often used to express a harsh attitude.

What are other types of control?

The tongue can also affect language. Alveolarized voice exists when the tongue-blade is further front toward the upper teeth ridge, making voice lispy. Retroflex voice reflects the pronouncing of ‘t, d, n, l, s’ in American English. Velarized voice exists by raising the tongue-back toward the palate, which sounds tense. Palatalized voice exists when the tongue-front is near the hard palate, and sounds babyish.

Dental control

The teeth also play a role in speech production. For example, poor teeth can affect the person’s normal articulation.

Labial control

The lip is also important for speech production. There can be close-lip-rounding, which people use during ‘baby talk’. There can also be nasalization, which involves horizontal lip expansion, which people use when they express irritation. Horizontal lip constriction is often used during angry or irritated speech. Horizontal lip expansion voice is used during the expression of irritation, but with a higher pitch. Vertical lip constriction voice exists when we speak with contempt or repressed anger, and involves nasalization. Diagonal-upward lip expansion voice is often used during country folk in cultures, and has vocal and nasal resonance. Diagonal-downward lip-expansion voice refers to the stereotyped speech of film villains and thugs, and involves muscular tension which causes intermittent nasal resonance. Lastly, trembling lips often arise from cold or emotion, and affects labial articulations.

Mandibular control

The jaw affect speech production too. The voice types determined by the posture of the jaw can be identified in two dimensions: vertical and horizontal. Vertical openings can lead to wide-open-jaw-voice, which involves distorted articulations (comic, and special effects), and half-closed-jaw voice (clenched-teeth-voice), which is often used to express fear or anger. Muttering and mumbling are used to refer to speaking in a low voice, indistinctively and with partly closed mouth. It can also denote poor articulated voice, when people are fatigued and sleepy.

The horizontal dimension involves the protracted-jaw voice, which is characteristic of villains, gangsters, thugs. It involves thrusting the lower jaw forward and causing voice to resonate more nasally than orally. Retracted-jaw voice, in contrast, is caused by recession of the lower jaw, and causes nasality and improper articulation. It is often used to portray mentally retarded people, somber people, and shy people.

A rotating-jaw refers to the stereotyped growling or muttering villain, with a nasal and strained voice. A trembling jaw is used to refer to labial articulations, and can result from cold, and emotional tension.

What is articulary tension control?

This type of control reflects the joint action of the laryngeal, pharyngeal, lingual and labiofacial muscles. It can result in lax articulation, and tense articulation.

What is objectual control?

Objectual control refers to the effect that certain objects (food) have on our speech. For example, food and masticatories can lead to labial smacks, dorsal clicks, and suctional sounds. There are also other objectual obstructors, such as conversational props. For example, talking with a pipe in the mouth. Task-performing object-adaptors refer to holding a string, nails, pins between the teeth or lips, or while eating or drinking. Emotional object-adaptors refer to when we hold a handkerchief or tissue against the mouth or nose while talking or crying.

What is external control?

Sometimes, the environment has a big impact on our voice. For example, the din in public places, traffic noise, machinery, the surf of the sea, the clattering of the thunder, etcetera. These type of sounds make us raise our voices.

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Article summary of From flawed self-assessment to blatant whoppers: the utility of voluntary behaviour in detecting deception by Ekman & Sullivan - Chapter

Article summary of From flawed self-assessment to blatant whoppers: the utility of voluntary behaviour in detecting deception by Ekman & Sullivan - Chapter


What kind of lies are there?

There are different types of lies and deception. Sometimes, people don’t have wrong intentions, but they lie to themselves. For example, they deny that they have a symptom of a certain disease while in fact they do. Self-deception and positive illusion are among the least intentional type. People who view themselves in a more positive light do not have the intention to deceive another person, they just really believe these things. Then, there are white lies. These are lies told with the intention to mislead people. Further along the continuum, lay the lies and deceptions of people with certain disorders. These lies are partly conscious and partly unconscious. At the far end of the continuum are the big, deliberate lies. This study is focused on nonverbal deceit. It looks at cues of deceit and the differences in the ability to detect deceit.

The authors define a lie as a deliberate intention to mislead another person. The lies used in the study are ‘real life lies’, like lies about cultural beliefs and lies about crimes. Charles Darwin used to think that emotional expressions could hardly be misleading. According to Darwin, it is hard to conceal true emotions, because emotions are expressed on your face by certain muscles and people can’t really control these muscles. You may try to control them, but involuntary muscles might portray your true feelings. Research shows that when people lie, leakage occurs. This means that part of an emotion occurs rapidly which shows how the person really feels, even if he or she is trying to conceal it. The authors of this article have found some differences between expressed emotions and truly felt emotions. These differences are morphology, timing, symmetry, and cohesion. These will be discussed.

Morphology

Biological based emotions have certain facial expressions that involve certain muscles when a person experiences this emotion. If a person is faking an emotion or inhibiting an emotion, the muscles will not move in the same way. There is a certain coding system people can use to see if somebody really smiles of happiness or is faking a smile. All the muscles are examined and when people produce a fake smile, their muscle movements show actions associated with fear, sadness or disgust. Also, when people smile of joy, they show ‘orbicularis oculi’, so laughing eyes. This means that the eyes are orbited, the brows are pulled down and the cheeks are pulled up. This is called the smile of joy. Because of Duchenne’s discovery of this, these smiles are now called Duchenne smiles. There is a lot of support for the statement that Duchenne smiles are truly smiles of joy. Researchers have found that ten-month-old infants showed Duchenne smiles when their mother approached them, but showed other smiles when a stranger approached them. Research also shows that Duchenne smiles can be recognized in daily life situations.

Timing

In the 1960s, researchers discovered micro facial expressions when they examined videos of psychiatric patients who lied during a clinical interview. These expressions were very brief and often unnoticeable to the untrained observer. Also, the onset of fake emotions is usually abrupt, lasts too long and ends abruptly.

Symmetry

Researchers in the late 1970s reported that emotions were more intensely expressed on the left side of the face than on the right side. This was true for all basic emotions except happiness. So, false smiles are more like to be asymmetric. One study asked children to imitate facial movements and they showed asymmetrical facial actions, while their spontaneous smiles during the experiment were symmetrical.

Cohesion

The face is not the only thing that can show signs of deceit. The voice can also indicate that somebody is lying. Research showed that when people lie, their voice pitch increased. Hesitations and speech errors also may convey deceit. Another aspect that can indicate a lie is gesture. Changes in the frequency or the tempo of gestures may indicate deception. So, if people show gestures that aren’t usual for them, this may be an indication of that they are lying.

What can be concluded?

The researchers of this study point to different cues you can use to detect lies. They have discovered this conducting laboratory experiments. In the real world, however, some people might be very good in lying. Also, using other facial muscles does not always mean that somebody is lying. It is also possible that people experience more than one single emotion and they don’t really know what they are feeling or that they feel embarrassed to show their true feelings. Therefore, the authors suggest to conduct more research in this topic.

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Article summary of Non-verbal behaviour as communication: approaches, issues and research by Gordon et. al. - Chapter

Article summary of Non-verbal behaviour as communication: approaches, issues and research by Gordon et. al. - Chapter


What is this article about?

Researchers in a certain field make use of figurative comparisons and personal perspectives. These perspectives are called paradigms and metaphors. Scientists think that these paradigms are important for creative thoughts. Researchers have reviewed a number of psychology papers and found there to be many distinct mental metaphors. All these metaphors were used to help the reader to understand the topic better. The metaphors were usually based on explicit comparisons, but sometimes also on subtly implied comparisons. Different metaphors place different aspects of psychology on relief. Other researchers have found that we use metaphors in everyday life. The usage of metaphors and irony show that we have a fundamental ability to conceptualize situations figuratively. Research on this topic shows that certain words can have strong meanings. But, the human being doesn’t only express their behavior verbally. Non-verbal behavior seems to be very important for human interaction, maybe even more important compared to verbal behavior.

What is known about non-verbal behavior?

The study of non-verbal behavior is not new. In 1601, Francis Bacon recognized that people do not only talk using mouth, but also using their hands and their eyes. In the eighteenth and nineteenth century, gestures and emotional expressions were called the natural languages and people thought that they provided the foundation for symbolic communication. In the nineteenth century, Darwin studied the human face and looked at the neuromuscular expressions of emotions. Scientists back then knew that these expressions took place automatically and rapidly and sometimes involuntarily. In the beginning of this century, researchers placed more emphasis on evolutionary psychology and on how facial expressions adapted for certain reasons. However, some researchers think that this approach is problematic, because it neglects the impact of immediate situational factors. Montepare believes that we need to include proximal/situational influences and distal/historical influences when we study non-verbal communication. In the twentieth century, Freud offered a number of interpretive strategies with his psychodynamic approach for non-verbal communication. Throughout the history, the study of non-verbal communication has emphasized different topics. In Darwin’s time, non-verbal communication was viewed as an affective expression metaphor. In Freud’s time, non-verbal communication was seen as a riddle or obscure text metaphor, which people needed to decode. In the ’70s, researchers viewed non-verbal behavior as a code metaphor and researchers focused more on the structure of the code itself and not on the meaning. Nowadays, non-verbal communication can also be seen as a dramatic presentation, like mime, dance and dramatic stage. These four metaphors all hold to be true.

Non-verbal behavior and style

Usually, we view non-verbal behavior as communication, but some researchers ascribe another style to non-verbal behavior. These two are non-verbal behavior as personal idiom and non-verbal behavior as skill. The personal idiom style sees refers to the distinction between instrumental aspects of action and expressive aspects. The expressive aspects are personalized, like a signature or voice of a person. The skill style refers to that people have acquired certain skills from their environment to perform better. For example, being better in a sport, singing better or performing a surgery better. Skilled performances imply complex, coordinated motor acts that only emerge gradually through development and training. Refined action is another characteristic of skilled performance and not recognizable for the untutored. Skilled performances are dependent on practice over periods of time. Training has to be combined with resting. Some other characteristics of skilled performances are the assumption that individuals vary in the extent to which they display refined performances, their resistance to disuse (if you don’t ride a bicycle for a year, it does not mean that you will forget how to ride a bike) and that performers recognize refinements in their performance. Research has shown there to be a relationship between non-verbal decoding and interpersonal social skills among adults.

How is non-verbal behavior studied?

The study of non-verbal behavior as a form of communication has increased in popularity. There are many book chapters about this topic and even more electronically available articles. Not all articles or books are scientific. The scientific articles and books lay an emphasis on theoretical-research orientation, while articles and books of lay people have an emphasis on application without any theory or without sufficient theory and research to validate the statements or to make them reliable.

There are seven dimensions that describe the categories of non-verbal behavior as communication. These seven dimensions are:

  • Kinesics: This is body language, like moving the hands, postural shifts, gestures, facial expressions and eye movement.
  • Paralanguage: These are the vocals that are content-free (and discussed in a previous chapter). It relates to voice, volume, pitch, speech rate, pauses and interruptions.
  • Physical contact in the form of touching.
  • Proxemics: This means interpersonal spacing (do you stand close to your interaction partner?) and norms of territoriality (are you allowed to come near your interaction partner?)
  • Physical characteristics of people: These are all the physical characteristics of people. Examples of these are hair color, skin color, body shape and attractiveness.
  • Artefacts: These make up the extra things you use to make yourself pretty or presentable. Examples of these are clothes, jewelry, wigs and perfume.
  • Environmental factors: Where does the behavior occur? It can be in a classroom, a library, office of other places.

The last three categories convey information about the actor.

Non-verbal communication should not be treated as a separate form of communication. The meaning of non-verbal behavior must be considered in the context in which it occurs. The environmental setting of the behavior is of big importance. The physical and social aspects of this environment can also have a big impact on non-verbal behavior. For example, the arrangements of furniture at a friend’s home can be of big importance for the bodily movements of a person. These bodily movements depend on whether you’re standing upfront in your friend’s house, whether you are sitting on a couch next to him, or whether you are seated on a chair. It is also important to know how far your friend is sitting from you during interaction. It also it seems that non-verbal behavior may have different meanings when exhibited on the street rather than in an office. When you’re talking to somebody on the street near a construction-site, you will probably be more likely to exaggerate your non-verbal communication patterns than when you’re talking/whispering to somebody in the library. The social climate of the environment is also of importance. You will display different behaviors in stressful situations compared to less stressful situations. Also, in a formal setting, you will be producing less non-verbal behavior than in an informal setting.

Non-verbal behavior of communication can be differently interpreted by the encoder and the decoder. The encoder is the person who displays the non-verbal behavior, while the decoder is the receiver who interprets this behavior. There are two classifications for behavioral messages. One of them is the informative act. This is the information that is tried to be sent to the receiver, and the receiver might interpret this correctly or incorrectly. The receiver can form impressions without the sender intending this. The second classification is the communicative act. This is the opposite of the informative act. The encoder is intentionally trying to send a specific message to the receiver. People can stop sending intentional messages, but they can’t stop conveying information. Sometimes, the decoder might think that the encoder is sending a wrong message on purpose, while in fact he isn’t. This may result in feelings of anger in the decoder, while this was not intended. The encoder can send two types of signals to the decoder: goal-directed or non-goal-directed signals. The decoder may interpret these as goal-directed or as non-goal-directed. Goal-directed signals of the encoder are intended. Hopefully, the decoder will also perceive this as intended. Otherwise, conflicts can arise.

What is a model of non-verbal communication?

Ekman and Friesen developed a model of non-verbal communication and this model distinguishes between three characteristics of non-verbal behavior: usage, origin and coding. Usage refers to all circumstances that exist at the time of the non-verbal act. This means the setting, the emotional tone and the relationship between the people who are interacting. Usage refers to the intentionality of the encoder and the external feedback the decoder sends when he or she has interpreted the message. The origin refers to the location of the non-verbal behavior, of which some are rooted in the nervous-system (like reflexes), while others are learned through culture or family members. Coding refers to the meaning that is attached to a non-verbal act. Coding can be extrinsic or intrinsic. Extrinsically coded acts represent something, in a symbolic way. Examples of these are a thumbs-up sign and flipping the middle-finger. Intrinsic codes represent the same feelings. If you are mad at your friend, you may playfully hit him on his arm. This is a mild form of aggression and it also represents aggression.

There are five other categories of behavioral acts. The first one is emblems. These are non-verbal acts that have direct verbal translation and can even substitute words. An example of this is frowning to indicate disapproval. Emblems can be learned. The second category is illustration. This refers to a movement that illustrates what is verbalized. If you say that something is a couple centimeters long, you may also show this by holding your thumb and index-finger a couple centimeters apart. These behavioral acts are socially learned. The third category is regulation. This serves to regulate the conversation flow between people. You can nod your head to show that you understand what the other person is talking about. Regulators are culture-specific and may thus be misinterpreted by people from another culture. The fourth category is the category of adapters. These are objects of self-manipulation which are learned in early childhood. Adapters are behavioral habits and sometimes do not really have a function, like scratching your head when you do not know something. There are also alter-adaptors and these include hand movements to protect oneself from attack. Another category of adaptors is the object adaptor. These are learned instrumental tasks, like playing with a pen or smoking. The fifth category of behavioral acts are the affect displays. This refers to facial expressions of emotions. People from different cultures do agree on which facial expression represents which emotion, but they do not always agree on the intensity of expressions. Also, cultures have different display rules. For example, Japanese people are usually not allowed to show negative emotions in a formal context.

How is non-verbal communication organized?

Researchers have found other ways to organize non-verbal acts of communication. According to Dittmann, there are four major channels of communication: language, facial expressions, vocalizations and bodily movements. All of these are defined in the degree of information they convey at any moment. Some channels provide much information, while others do not. For example, you may tell someone that you are happy for him or her, but your facial expressions and bodily movements do not match your statement. Then, your expressions and movements convey more information than your language.

Mehrabian used another approach to categorize non-verbal behaviors. Mehrabian has organized the non-verbal categories in three dimensions: positiveness, potency and responsiveness. Positiveness relates to the evaluation of a person or object and persons uses this to decide to either approach or avoid the object or person. Potency represents status or social control and relates to cues of posture. Responsiveness is related to activity cues.

What is the relationship between non-verbal communication and the context?

One of the limitations of many studies on non-verbal behavior is that it happens in the laboratory and thus misses out on the relevant environmental and social features that real-life interactions have. It is thus difficult to generalize laboratory findings to real-life settings, especially in different role-defined settings. Research has found that decoders overemphasize dispositional qualities in inferring the causes of the actor’s behavior. This means that they don’t really pay attention to the situational factors on the impact of behavior, but think that the behavior is mostly caused by the characteristics of the actor. Actors do the opposite: they overemphasize situational factors in explaining their own behavior. This can lead to an observer bias and have serious consequences. If you think that a classmate from a different country didn’t pass the exam because he or she is not smart enough instead of assigning this to some personal issues your classmate had, you might come to stereotype all people of that country as stupid. As discussed above, culture may also have a big impact in display rules. Some cultures have certain display rules and are not allowed to show certain types of emotions in certain settings (Japanese). This can be perceived negatively by other cultures and people from the West might think that Japanese people are cold and heartless.

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Article summary of Arousal Theories of Interaction Adaptation by Andersen - Chapter

Article summary of Arousal Theories of Interaction Adaptation by Andersen - Chapter


Every relationship starts with a single interaction. In this arousal-inducing interaction, something happens that causes people to interact more, eventually leading to a more intimate relationship. How a relationship evolves from this first interaction to a long-term relationship is something that has been studied a lot.

What do immediacy behaviors communicate?

Immediacy behaviors are both verbal and nonverbal actions that promote interpersonal closeness and allow a relationship to start. They communicate a number of interpersonal things, among which are:

  • That someone is available for interaction: turning towards someone, making eye contact and getting closer to another person all indicate to someone that you want to interact with them.
  • Approaching: behaviors like smiling, touching or taking the time to show someone you want to connect with them draws two people together.
  • Interpersonal warmth: all the above behaviors also signal intimacy and connection towards the person you are interacting with.
  • Interpersonal stimulation or arousal: the aforementioned behaviors also increase heart rate, breathing, sweating and other behaviors that show interpersonal arousal.

Immediacy behaviors, like mentioned before, can be both verbal and nonverbal. Nonverbal behaviors include eye contact, moving closer, being relaxed and having a positive facial expression. Verbal behaviors include nicknames, informal addressing, or inclusive plural first-person pronouns. These immediacy behaviors increase physiological arousal. 

Which features do arousal-based theories share?

  • All these theories look at interpersonal interactions that start with nonverbal or verbal immediacy behaviors.
  • Each of these theories assumes that arousal plays a part in how these interactions come to be, form or continue.
  • All of them are dyadic.
  • All of them have a cognitive component.
  • All of the theories want to figure out why immediacy behaviors cause another person in an interaction to reciprocate these behaviors and allows people to become closer.
  • The theories all want to understand how immediacy behaviors influence how people feel after an interaction.
  • All of the theories want to examine approach and avoidance behavior to understand how this may determine how a relationship will turn out.

What is the affiliate conflict theory/equilibrium theory?

The affiliate conflict theory was informally called the equilibrium theory. It suggests that each person has an equilibrium point for interpersonal intimacy in a relationship, because excessive closeness causes anxiety but people do have a need for proximity. Thus, people are always balancing approach and avoidance behaviors. They want to maintain their desire for autonomy while also fulfilling their need for connection. This equilibrium needs to be reached by both people in the relationship to make them comfortable.

However, this theory never suggested how this equilibrium was determined and whether this was influenced by circumstances or individual differences. It also did not account for sex or cultural differences regarding reciprocation and compensation.

What is the arousal labeling theory?

The arousal labeling theory proposes that when enough interpersonal immediacy is shown by a giver, the amount of arousal is increased for a receiver of these immediacy behaviors. As a result of this, the receivers have to label the arousal, either as something positive or something negative, leading to a certain response. Whether arousal is labeled positively or negatively depends on situational cues, past experiences and the relationship between the two people that are interacting. When a person labels the arousal positively, they reciprocate the other person's immediacy level, but if they label it negatively, the person will show compensatory, immediacy reducing behaviors.

While it was found that immediacy increases arousal, the theory has one big criticism. Namely, for these processes to take place, a heavy cognitive load is required. This cannot account for the rapid behavioral changes that take place in interpersonal interaction. Reflective cognition cannot occur in the time it takes to respond to something a giver does, thus this theory cannot seem to account for the changes that take place for the receiver in the form of interpersonal reciprocity or compensation.

What is expectancy violations theory?

Expectancy violations theory assumes that people expect certain behaviors of themselves and others during interpersonal interaction. These expectations are developed based on situational influence, cultural differences, relational familiarity and individual characteristics. Expectations thus provide a template for what people think is normal during interactions. When these are not fulfilled, physiological arousal heightens and people cognitively try to explain the behavior of the other person as a result.

However, instead of evaluating the message content, as a result of the arousal the attention of a receiver gets redirected to the other interactant. Specifically, receivers evaluate the communicator on social or physical attractiveness, status, communication style, or relational familiarity. If this is all evaluated positively and the interactants are seen as rewarding, violations of expectancy are seen as positive. As a result of this, people are more satisfied with their relationship with the violator. However, if their behavior is evaluated negatively and the interactants are seen as unrewarding, they will be perceived negatively as a result. This can reduce people's liking for the violator. This means that nonrewarding communicators do pest in an interaction if they stick to norms, whereas rewarding communicators can benefit from breaking them.

What is discrepancy arousal theory?

Discrepancy arousal theory indicates that when someone gets increased immediacy from another person and this exceeds their expectations or standards, this causes an increase in physiological arousal. The arousal will be highest for those immediacy behaviors that are the least expected. When behaviors fall within the expectation for an interaction, known as the acceptance region, no arousal occurs. Thus, how far a behavior lies from what is expected determines the arousal. The theory also posits that the 'best' level of arousal is a moderate one, as high levels of arousal create stress and avoidance behavior, whereas low levels of arousal create no behavior change. Moderate arousal results in pleasure, connection, positive emotions and reciprocation of immediacy.

However, a weakness of this theory is that it fails to demonstrate that discrepancy between what we expect and what happens is the primary cause of an increase in arousal.

What is cognitive valence theory/arousal valence theory?

The arousal valence theory was renamed the cognitive valence theory. It suggested that the connection we make to other people is partially biologically based. Moderate physiological arousal as a result of immediacy causes us to activate pre-existing cognitive schemas. These schemas then determine the valence of the response (positive versus negative). The six cognitive schemas are the following:

  • How culturally appropriate the immediacy behavior is (based on norms and rules).
  • How personally appropriate the immediacy behavior is (based on an individual's personality, gender role, or beliefs).
  • The interpersonal valence based on attractiveness, status or credibility of the other interactant. This is also known as reward valence.
  • The interpersonal relationship between the interactants (based on the relationship they share, e.g. partners, friends, relatives).
  • The situational appropriateness of what is said (based on context).
  • The current state of the receiver of the message (based on their internal, physical, mental and emotional state).

If behavior is seen as appropriate according to these schema, positive relational outcomes will occur. If any schema are violated, the outcomes will be negative.

A negative of this model is that it assumes all six ema must be evaluated positively before the interaction is evaluated positively. It does not leave space to assume that a high positivity in one schema, might compensate a negative evaluation in another.

What is affection exchange theory?

Affection exchange theory states that affectionate communication is adaptive; it evolved because it enabled people to provide and obtain resources and promote relationships that are necessary for survival. Thus, people with strong relationships have a better chance to survive and pass their genes to the next generation. Affectionate communication not only increases physiological arousal, it also causes higher endorphins, oxytocin, dopamine and prolactin, which all helps to maintain the positive relationship. The primary channel for affectionate communication is nonverbal, specifically touch.

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Article summary of Expectancy Violations Theory by Burgoon - Chapter

Article summary of Expectancy Violations Theory by Burgoon - Chapter


What is the Expectancy Violations Theory (EVT)?

The EVT is a theory about interpersonal communication which claims that violations of expectations are sometimes more liked compared to confirmations of expectations. There is also a distinction between positive and negative violations. Most of the time, it is advised to avoid expectancy violations. However, sometimes violations can produce desirable results.

How can we reconcile research findings?

Studies regarding proxemic choices have shown that seating arrangements, seated distances and standing distances are affected by different psychosocial and demographic factors (culture, gender, age, geographic location, and personality). As an example, people from Mediterranean cultures sit closer to each other (show closer proximity) than those from Scandinavian cultures. Males tend to stand farther apart and show more indirect body orientations than woman. Introverts also choose more distance between themselves and other compared to extroverts.

The type of relationship that people have also influences their proxemic choices. When people like each other, they sit closer to each other. People choose to sit further away from others, when their age or status differs a lot from their own.

When people keep farther distance, this expresses dominance, power, status and authority differences, dislike and repulsion.

In different contexts, different distances are appropriate. In private interactions, close proximity is preferred. People also sit closer to others when they want to show their approval of this person. In more formal and public interactions, people prefer further distances.

Sitting closer is not always preferred. Research has shown that people have the need for space between them and others, to achieve privacy and a sense of protection from threat. When people breach another’s ‘space bubble’, this is an expectancy violation. This can produce negative responses, such as leaning and looking away, and even feeling.

Different streams of research on proxemic norms and reactions to violations of these norms, show incompatible results on whether close proximity is desired and has positive outcomes, or whether is undesired and produces negative outcomes.

The EVT was created to address these questions. It uses propositions, which state an empirical relationship between two or more variables.

What are the key concepts and predictions in EVT?

Expectations is the first key concept. EVT is a communication theory, and is about what people expect from others in interpersonal interactions. Expectations arise from social norms, personal characteristics, relationship factors, and context factors. When people know each other well, they accept this person’s proximity rules. So, the first proposition is:

“Distancing and personal space expectations are a function of the social norms and the known idiosyncrasies of the interactants.”

Another key concept is communicator reward valence. This is explained by that when people interact, they rate each other one dimensions such as attractiveness, status, credibility, intelligence, charisma, etcetera. This evaluation forms the valence continuum. So, if someone who is highly valued gets close, people accept this more easily, because it is more rewarding compared to when an obnoxious loud mouth does this.

When other’s do not meet the expectations, this is called expectancy violation. When expectancies are met, this is called expectancy confirmation. The expected distances are not an absolute value, it is more a threshold. If someone passes this threshold, then there is a violation. These kind of violations often involve a threat threshold: if someone passes these thresholds, the other person feels discomfortable and maybe threatened. The greater the violation, the greater the effect. Whether this violation will have a negative or positive affect, depends on the value (reward) people assign to others.

Thus, the second proposition is:

“The communication outcomes of an interaction are a function of the rewardingness of the initiator, the direction of deviations from expectations, and the magnitude of deviation.”

Other three relevant concepts are arousal-distraction, interpretation-evaluation process, and violation valence. The EVT states that violations are physiologically and psychologically arousing, and that they distract attention from what is being said. The appraisal process refers to what the targets of a violation think of it. The interpretation involves whether people see the violations as intended, or accidental. Evaluation refers to whether the violation is judged as acceptable or unacceptable.

This involves three propositions:

  1. “When distancing is perceived as a statement of initiator’s regard for the target, closer proximity is interpreted as positive regard, and farther distance is interpreted as negative regard; when distancing is equated with threat, closer proximity is perceived as more threatening and farther distance as less threatening.”
  2. “Extremely close proximity is perceived as aversive and produces discomfort.”
  3. “The more rewarding the initiator, the closer the location of the threat threshold.”

The author also describes how violations and confirmations produce positive or negative outcomes. There are four kinds of outcomes. Positive confirmation happens when the pattern is expected and initiated by a valued interactant (a parent sitting next to a child). Negative confirmation happens when the proxemic pattern is expected but committed by someone who is low valued (a nosy, talkative aunt sitting down near to you). Positive violations refer to when a highly valued interactant comes closer than expected (when a romantic partner snuggles up close to his date on the sofa). Negative violations happen when a low valued interactor chooses to sit very close to you (a disliked ‘touchy-feely’ uncle sitting next to his niece).

Violations do not only reflect sitting too close. When partners are moving too far, this are also violations. Thus, the valence of the violation (positive/negative) is determined by the meaning that is ascribed to the distance, and the evaluation that is associated with the act and the actor.

This leads to two propositions:

1. “Violations are more tolerated and preferred by rewarding communicators than nonrewarding ones.”

2. “The valence of a nonverbal act and its violation status interact, such that:

  • Positive expectancy violations achieve better communication outcomes than positive conformations.
  • Negative expectancy violations achieve worse communication outcomes than negative confirmations.
  • Positive expectancy violations and confirmations achieve better communication outcomes than negative expectancy confirmations and violations.”

What are the research findings?

The propositions stated above are used and tested in studies. These studies show that some behaviors can have multiple meanings, depending on the rewardingness of the actor. Other behaviors do not have multiple meaning and reactions. For example, increased eye contact can be interpreted as liking, approval, but also as dominance, and aggression. Thus, when we want to predict the valence of a violation, we need to understand the meanings of nonverbal behaviors.

Key conclusions from research are:

  • Expectancies guide behavior and have persistent effects on behavior.
  • Communicator reward valence affects communication patterns and outcomes by itself and in combination with violation characteristics.
  • Nonverbal violations are ambiguous, have multiple meanings. The interpretations are dependent on the violator’s reward value.
  • Nonverbal violations often alter responses relative to confirmations.
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Article summary of Communication Accommodation Theory. The International Encyclopedia of Interpersonal Communication by Dragojevic et al. - Chapter

Article summary of Communication Accommodation Theory. The International Encyclopedia of Interpersonal Communication by Dragojevic et al. - Chapter


What are the principles of the Communication Accommodation Theory (CAT)?

The principles of accommodation were described in Chapter 3. However, we shortly reflect on these principles. These principles include all the core features and propositions in CAT.

Perceptions, Motivations, and Behavior. This are the different topics of research. All are important for CAT. However, the background of a researcher decides what they emphasize. For example, a sociolinguistic may emphasize behavior, and a psychologist may emphasize perceptions and motivations. Thus, within the CAT, there is a lot of diversity.

This diversity led to some debate about what really is ‘communication’ in CAT. The researchers working with CAT have concluded that communication refers to what is intended by a speaker, understood by a receiver, and/or which provokes an interpretation, attribution, or evaluation. So, communication is a product and function of the participants in an interaction and their perceptions.

Through the use of principles, CAT studies perceptions, behavior, and their interaction.

Intergroup and Interpersonal Dynamics. The CAT is used to study intergroup relations as well as idiosyncratic or individualized interactions. This is also why CAT is different compared to other theories about interaction, which focus only on either intergroup or on interpersonal factors.

Nuances of (non)Accommodation. The authors state that it is important to remember that both accommodative and nonaccommodative communication can be enacted, for different reasons. They state that explicitly three points have to be kept in mind with regard to accommodation:

  1. CAT is a theory which studies behavior, perceptions, and motivations. Perceptions influence the ways in which interlocutors try to behave and respond to behavior, but actual behavior underlies perceptions. So, it is important to study both.
  2. CAT is a theory of interpersonal and intergroup communication. The emphasis si on conversations between people, so therefore interpersonal communication is important.
  3. Accommodation and nonaccommodation can exist in different forms. Overaccommodation, underaccommodation, and counteraccommodation are all different forms of accommodation.

What are the three vistas of Accommodation?

CAT is strongly linked to the contexts and methodologies in which it is used. This creates certain issues and challenges. Next, three ‘vistas’ of accommodation will be described:

Contextual Vistas

A lot of features of the CAT are based on research in interethnic and intercultural encounters, intergenerational interactions, and communication in healthcare settings. Each of these contexts has its own intergroup and interpersonal characteristics, its own emphases, and own important points. For example, elderly people, often complain that their caregivers do not treat them as adults. So, in this context, accommodation means to move beyond stereotypes and to treat each other as individuals. Another example is that in health settings, both clients and health professionals believe that the relevant expertise and identities of all people should be recognized. This makes sense, because there is no reason to see a doctor expect for when you need their expertise. So, in this context, accommodation refers to staying in role and operating from social identities, but treating each other with appropriate respect and attention to individual needs. A last example refers to intercultural contexts. In some cultures, the group boundaries are very strong. Then, it may me most appropriate to emphasize differences between one’s own culture and the new one, as long as it is done with respect and a positive tone. Thus, for CAT, it is important to emphasize the role of context more clearly. Then, people in different contexts can use this theory.

Methodological Vistas

As is the case with the theory, the methodologies of CAT are also eclectic. The diversity of methodological approaches is a great strength of the theory, because this makes CAT more comprehensive and interdisciplinary. However, studies that have been conducted often cite other, similar studies. For example, experimental studies cite mainly other experiments, and sociolinguistic studies cite other sociolinguistic studies. So, the connections between approaches should be examined more clearly. One method to elucidate connections between academic papers would be social network analysis.

Newly developed software tools for language analysis will also contribute to an expansion of mixed method research. For example, content analysis tools provide quick summary information about the words people use, and provide visual summaries which are easy to understand and use. Concept-based, artificial intelligence tools, go beyond this and analyze concepts that occur together. The latter tools can be used to guide researchers in deciding which parts of their text should be analyzed in more detail. Discursis is another tool which is used for CAT. This tool adds visualization of conversations turn by turn. So, it is a good complement to conversation analysis or discourse analysis.

The developments in tools described can enhance research on CAT, which leads to that larger-scale work can be more integrative and programmatic.

Another point to make about methodological vistas is that CAT is a theory about interactions. Interactions are most often dyadic in nature. However, the quantitative studies in CAT have only limitedly used dyadic analysis. Therefore, the authors suggest to make more use of the ‘actor-partner independence model (APIM)’. This model includes bidirectional influences of members in an interactional dyad and uses collected data from both the individuals. When we use such models, we can assess how perceptions or motivations for a speaker’s and the partner’s behavior influence communicative and relational behavior for these individuals.

Conceptual Vistas

The authors further suggest three important conceptual points for future research with CAT.

Accommodation as Communication Competence. Most of the researchers in CAT criticize traditional training programs in communication competence and intercultural and interprofessional training programs. They state that these programs typically emphasize interpersonal features of communication, and ignore intergroup features. Also, these programs often assume that people are motivated to communicate as effectively as they can. However, sometimes, people do not hold the goal to be cooperative, and can even be anti-social. For example, people may want to win a zero-sum conflict, or deprecate another group. So, in these cases, competent communication may lead to negative outcomes, which is exactly what these traditional training programs try to avoid.

Gallois stated that sometimes, the better people’s communication skills are, the less positive their communication is. He explained that this happened because the intergroup context may be negative, so that members of each group are actually motivated to misunderstand each other. If this is the case, political or social work must be conducted before traditional communication competence skills training can have much impact.

The most important goal of communication competence programs is to break down bridges between individuals and groups, and to communicate more honestly. However, there are many situations in which this is not realistic, and may even have negative outcomes. Sometimes, bridges between people are what is needed. For example, people with high status positions have come a long way. And this investment leads to a strong sense of identity. When they are then asked to abandon this identity, and act as any other individual, may be threatening and unrealistic. So, instead of breaking down bridges, it is more important to build people’s confidence in their identities and ways of communicating within these identities, so that they are more resilient in conflict situations.

The authors suggest the trainers in intergroup communication competence to follow these Principles:

  • Analyze the training situation via CAT in intergroup and interpersonal terms. So, look at: what is the history, what are influential current events, what are the main goals, what are the relevant stereotypes?
  • Foreground the nature of the context. So, look at whether it is more or less intergroup, more or less hierarchical, formal, or role-related.
  • Highlight the most relevant sociolinguistic strategies in this context. So, decide whether approximation (convergence, divergence) is important and relevant. Also look at which of the nonapproximation strategies are implicated and how.
  • Train in perceiving and interpreting others’ behavior, and in drawing lessons for future interactions.

Using these principles, training programs can be more theory-based, and can emphasize moving beyond bridges (group identities) with respect and understanding, instead of eliminating them.

What are the Biophysical Underpinnings of Accommodation?

In recent years, there has been an increase in the study of biological and neurological mechanisms of interpersonal communication. For example, research has shown that certain communicative acts, such as affection and social support, are related to neuroendocrine activity (cortisol and oxytocin levels), which protect the body from stress. Another finding is that synchronization of communication is linked to neural activity and relational outcomes. Also, using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), researchers found that framing an idea by adopting words that are associated with social interactions, triggers activity in the temporoparietal junction in the brain. This activity is associated with ‘mentalizing’, which is defined as the capacity to relate to the mental states of others. It also influences participants’ own communication. So, increased mentalizing when exposed to a novel idea makes it more likely that in subsequently describing the idea to others, individuals will use more social words to frame their description.

Neuroscientific advances and methods have also appeared in the study of intergroup relations. An example is that victory in sport for sport fans increases their self-esteem and can also be construed as a personal success. It also activates the pleasure center in the brain. These kind of effects in relation to interpersonal accommodation-nonaccommodation are important for the further development of CAT.

How is Accommodation related to the Digital Age?

Technological advancements in computer-mediated communication needs to be followed by CAT researchers. Because, it is important to determine, what is appropriate and accommodative communication when we communicate through electronic media. They might also look at how our ability to accommodate is affected by the constrains and structural elements of the social network platforms that people use. For example, will communication mode become a more significant aspect of perceiving, understanding, and responding to nonaccommodation in context?

Another issue related to digital technology involves the nature of a message’s audience. For example, most of the social networks platform move from a dyadic context or one-to-many communication, to ‘many-to-many’ interactions. Our messages are received and perceived by unknown audiences. We also have little control over our messages, after we post them. So, how do accommodative motives and relevant outcomes operate in this kind of context?

What is the conclusion?

The basic question in CAT is: how do people adjust their speech in interaction to indicate their attitudes toward their interlocutors? Later, social groups were added to this question. After, CAT has grown in complexity. So, what will CAT look like in the future? The authors suggest that there should be a greater emphasis on the difference that communication accommodation makes to other aspects of social relations. Also, there should be a stronger emphasis on intergroup communication competence. CAT can be used to improve communication in many contexts.

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Article summary of The Presence of Cell Phones in Romantic Partner Face-to-Face Interactions: An Expectancy Violation Theory Approach by Miller-Ott & Kelly - Chapter

Article summary of The Presence of Cell Phones in Romantic Partner Face-to-Face Interactions: An Expectancy Violation Theory Approach by Miller-Ott & Kelly - Chapter


What is this article about?

Cell phones have become so integrated in our lives, that American couples negotiate over when to use them, and when to not use them. A lot of couples are annoyed and upset when their partners use mobile phones during their time together. Connected presence refers to how cell phones enable us to keep connections with others intact. This also comes with constant availability. The expectations that the people in one’s social network have, namely that the person is available for them, may clash with the expectancy that a romantic partner has.

In the current study, the researchers looked at how partners deal with the presence of cell phones during their time spent together.

What is the Expectation Violation Theory (EVT)?

This theory is developed to understand how people react to personal space violations, and includes all types of behavioral and communicative violations across various contexts. The three main components are expectancies, violation valence, and communicator reward value. For an explanation of these terms, I refer to the article of Burgoon (2015).

How are Cell Phone Expectations related to the EVT?

People expect from their partners to be moderately involved in an interaction. They expect interest and immediacy in interactions. However, cell phones and the attached constant availability can impact the partners abilities to give each other full attention. Researchers found that when partners have no rules about talking to other people while they were together, were more satisfied with the use of cell phones in their relationship, and also with their relationship as a whole. So, partners become unhappy when they set up rules to inhibit contact through cell phone with others when they are together.

When couples are unable to create mutually satisfying cell phone behaviors and expectations of one another, experience more conflict and dissatisfaction.

The mere presence of cell phones can also impact quality of interactions and perceptions of the relational partner. Researchers found that when people place a smartphone on the table in a café, the quality of the conversation was rated lower compared with conversations that had no cell phones on the table. In the former case, participants reported lower empathetic concern from their partner, and this effect was stronger when participants had a close relationship. Other researchers found that the presence of a cell phone interfered with closeness, connection, and relationship quality between conversational partners who were trying to get to know each other.

People commonly expect to turn off cellphones when they are in public areas (church, concert hall), but do not have the same expectations for private time with relational partners.

The conclusion is that we expect that partners are attentive to us during our time together, but we also expect them to maintain contact with others. We feel dissatisfied when we feel like our partner inhibits us from maintaining this contact.

The researchers looked at two research questions:

  1. What expectancies do romantic partners have regarding cell phone use in the first-date context and how do they respond to and manage violations?
  2. What expectancies do romantic partners have regarding cell phone use in established relationships and how do they respond to and manage violations?

What can be concluded?

The results show that expectations regarding cell phone use was not related to the stage of the relationship (early, established). However, in particular romantic contexts, higher levels of attentiveness is expected compared to other contexts.

Expected undivided attention

When people go on dates, they expect that their partners should not use their cell phone. In these contexts, they find it rude and annoying when the partners violate this expectation. This is also true for intimate time at home. During formal dates, some cell phone usage was acceptable for the partners. This includes responding to quick texts or calls, and when partners explain why they need to use the phone. Playing games on a phone is seen as a negative violation, but the results were unclear about whether social media usage or texting is a negative violation.

Partners on a first date stated that, when their expectations were violated, they would react indirectly. For example, they could start using their own phone. They could also make indirect comments. Some participants felt like, if they would react directly to the other’s behavior, they would come across like ‘a needy girl’.

When relationships are more established, participants react more directly.

Expected and Accepted Divided Attention

When partners in an established relationship are hanging out informally, cell phone usage is more accepted compared to when they are on formal dates, or during intimate time. However, in the latter case, excessive usage is still not acceptable for them. When their expectations are violated, they use more direct communication to deal with these violations.

Concluding remarks

In contexts in which people expect undivided attention (during formal dates, or during intimate time), perceptions of appropriate cell phone usage differ compared to more informal situations (hanging out).

When people hang out informally, they often have an established relationship, and do not expect undivided attention. When people expect undivided attention, they do not want their partner to use their cell phone. However, if a call comes in from an important figure (mother, boss), cell phone usage is accepted, if the call is quick, and if the partner tells that he or she will be taking the call. If people do not expect undivided attention, such as during informal hanging out, then they do not have any rules. However, excessive phone usage is still not accepted.

In new relationships such as first dates, indirect responses such as nonverbal behaviors or doing nothing at all, was more common as a response to violation. In established relationships, participants reported using more direct communication in response to expectancy violations.

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Article summary of Perceptions of affectionate communication among people with unfavorable and favorable attitudes toward homosexuality by Brantley-Hill & Brinthaupt - Chapter

Article summary of Perceptions of affectionate communication among people with unfavorable and favorable attitudes toward homosexuality by Brantley-Hill & Brinthaupt - Chapter


What is expression of affection?

Humans express and receive affection. For example, hugging kissing and caressing are all forms of affection. Affections shows how intimate or close people are with another. This is true for expressions of affection between parent and child, but also between lovers, friends, and acquaintances. In adulthood, sometimes these expressions of affection can be complicated. Think of two adult friends, one female and male. The male may tell the female that he loves her. He says this, because they are good friends. However, the female may interpret this as love in a romantic way. These interpretations of affection are thus influenced by both characteristics of the people that are involved, and by the aspects of where the expressions occur.

Affection is defined as ‘having feelings of fondness toward another individual’. As noted, perceptions of affection are influenced by factors. For example, regarding the appropriateness of affection, one factor is the location of the behavior. For example, Floyd and colleagues found that expressions of affection are seen as more appropriate when they happen in private compared to in public settings. Also, the emotional valence (value) and intensity of a situation may also influence the expressions of affection. For example, males find it more appropriate to hug another male during emotional contexts such as weddings, graduations and funerals. There are also differences in contexts that affect which expressions are seen as more acceptable, such as during sport competitions.

An individual factor that is related to affectionate expressions is gender socialization. It seems that males are less likely to express affection compared to females. Also, the gender of the targeted person also affects the perception of appropriateness. Another individual factor that influences the expression of affection, is one’s attitude toward homosexuality. In elaboration, people with negative attitudes may think that their expressions of affection will be interpreted as gay/lesbian, and therefore they might inhibit their expressions.

Derlega and colleagues suggested that these attitudes could be the reason for differences in touching behavior. They found that when males touch other males, they are more likely to be viewed as ‘gay’ or ‘bisexual’ compared to when females touch other females.

In the current study, the researchers want to understand how situational and individual factors (and especially the attitudes toward homosexuality) relate to perceptions of the appropriateness of expressing affection.

What is known about affectionate behaviors?

These behaviors can be sexual and nonsexual. Kissing, hugging, winking, and saying “I love you” are common ways of expressing affection among friends and family members, but also among lovers. Studies have shown that men express less affection in their same-sex relationships, compared to their other-sex relationships. Women seem to be equally affectionate in both types of relationships.

Men who hold negative attitudes toward homosexuality are less willing to disclose socially intimate information to other men and women, compared to men who hold positive attitudes. When greeting another man, they are more likely to shake hands, whereas during greeting women, they are more likely to kiss or to hug.

In the United States, male-male expressions of affection are often viewed as less appropriate compared to female-female or mixed-sex affection.

Therefore, it is important to understand affectionate communication among same-sex friends, and to look at how this communication may be misinterpreted.

During affectionate communication, important aspects are how the sender intends the message (what does the person mean?), how the receiver interprets it, and how others around them interpret it. An example of this is a man who puts his arm around another man during a walk as a way of saying “you go, pal!”. The question then is, how do others interpret this behavior? Do they see this as a friendly way of expressing affection, or do they view it as a homosexual gesture? It seems that affectionate expressions of males towards male friends are often viewed as inappropriate, because it signals homosexuality. In women, this is not the case. Also, in women, this kind of affection is often not linked to homosexuality. So, the perceived appropriateness of affection may depend on people’s attitude toward homosexuality.

What can be said about negative attitudes toward homosexuality?

Homophobia is defined as: “the dread of being in close quarters with homosexuals”. So, it contains self-reported negative affect toward, avoidance of, and aggression toward homosexuals. People with extreme negative attitudes toward homosexuals are often older and less educated men. Males also hold more negative attitudes toward gay males compared to toward lesbians. However, women have similar attitudes toward both groups.

Negative attitudes can range from mild discomfort to strong hatred. People with negative attitudes are thus less comfortable with and less likely to engage in same-sex touching than those with more positive attitudes. However, these attitudes are unrelated to other-sex touching.

Negative attitudes may be the result of the perception of violated sex roles. Males hold more traditional views about gender roles, compared to women. Therefore, this might explain why they show more negative attitudes toward homosexuality compared to women. Negative attitudes towards lesbian may come from the thought that these women defy the “normal” power structure, by not depending on men for their sexuality. This also holds for women who hold strong traditional views about females.

Both men and women with negative attitudes toward homosexuality score higher on authoritarian attitudes, and they also place more emphasis on stereotypic gender roles compared to those with positive attitudes toward homosexuality.

The current study looks at whether perceived appropriateness of affectionate expressions is related to the attitudes toward homosexuality.

What are the hypotheses?

In this study, there are several hypotheses. First, they expected that people with unfavorable attitudes toward homosexuality inhibit same-sex expressions of affection. However, the inhibition may not be present during other-sex interactions. This is the differential inhibition hypothesis. So, the first hypothesis is, there should be no difference in the perceived appropriateness of expressing affection toward other-sex members, between people with negative and positive attitudes toward homosexuality.

It could also be the case that people with negative attitudes find expression of affection less appropriate to all targets, so regardless of whether it is same-sex or other-sex affection. This is called the generalized inhibition argument. Thus, the second hypothesis is that high negative attitudes toward homosexuality are associated with lower feelings of appropriateness in the expression of affection toward all targets, compared to low negative attitudes.

Then, a third possibility is that people with high negative attitudes may be motivated to “prove” that they are not homosexual. Therefore, they may engage more in other-sex affection. This is called the differential enhancement argument. Thus, the third hypothesis is that, compared to people with no negative attitude, those with negative attitudes might think that it is more appropriate to express affection toward other-sex individuals.

A fourth hypothesis refers to the contextual aspects of the situation. It seems that whether the situation occurs in a public or private setting impacts people willingness to express affection. An emotional situation might lead to a different perception of affection. It could also be the case that individuals with strong negative attitudes do not like same-sex interactions, regardless of the context. Thus, the fourth hypothesis is that expressions of affection to same-sex individuals, regardless of the emotional valence or the difference in public-private settings.

The fifth hypothesis is related to the differential inhibition argument. If this argument is correct, then people with negative attitudes should not inhibit themselves during other-sex affection. So, they only inhibit affection toward same-sex individuals. If the generalized inhibition argument is correct, then people with negative attitudes are less likely to support affection toward a same-sex or other-sex target, regardless of the context or situation. So, they view affection in general as inappropriate. Lastly, according to the differential enhancement argument, people with negative attitudes view the expression of affection during other-sex interactions as more appropriate when the context is public, rather than private. They view this as more appropriate compared to people with no negative attitudes. As said, this may be because they want to prove that they are hetero, and in public they can show this.

What is the method used in the study?

Participants

There are 120 participants who are undergraduate students. They ranged from 18-43 years. Most of them reported to be currently in a romantic relationship, and had less than ten close friends.

Materials and Procedure

The participants had to fill in the Homophobia Scale. It consists of 25 statements referring to thoughts, feelings, and behaviors toward homosexuality. An example is: “Gay people make me nervous”.

Then, the study took place. Participants received a set of 3 pairs of scenarios which consist of situational descriptions. Each pair was divided into public and private condition. There were also three emotional valences: positive, neutral, and negative.

What are the results?

Differential Inhibition

People with negative attitudes toward homosexuality showed lower perceived appropriateness of expressing affection (PAEA), compared to people with less negative attitudes. This result did not support the differential inhibition hypothesis.

Differential Enhancement

Both low and high negative attitudes showed greater PAEA scores for other-sex than for same-sex targets. Thus, there does not seem to be a differential enhancement among those with negative attitudes.

Generalized Inhibition

People who scored high on the Homophobia Scale showed lower PAEA scores compared to low scorers on the Homophobia Scale. Thus, it seems that the generalized inhibition hypothesis is true.

Gender and Romantic Relationship Effects

The authors also looked at differences in gender. It seemed that men show lower PAEA scores compared to females. However, there was no main effect of gender. The results found are thus not different for males compared to females.

The authors also looked at relationship status. They found that people who are currently in a relationship had lower PAEA scores compared to people who are not in a relationship.

What can be concluded from this article?

Thus, it sems that people with more negative attitudes toward homosexuality, show a generalized negative attitude toward the expression of affection. Also, participants viewed expression of affection as more appropriate when it is directed toward other-sex compared to same-sex targets when it happens privately, and also when it involved a positive or negative situation, compared to a neutral situation.

To conclude, both attitudinal and social factors affect the perceived appropriateness of expressing affection. When we talk about people with negative attitudes toward homosexuality, it may be the case that their reluctance to express affection toward others might be a reflection of negative affect or social anxiety. For example, Bernat and colleagues found that males with very negative attitudes toward gays and lesbians who watched an erotic gay/lesbian videoclip, showed more negative affect, more hostility and aggression, and also more anxiety. Another factor that may affect negative attitudes is the personality trait ‘openness to experience’. The lower people are open to experience, the more negative their attitudes toward homosexuality is. It also seems that people who hold negative attitudes toward homosexuality find it more difficult to express affection toward others in general, but they do not find it difficult to express negative emotions.

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Article summary of Bridging Differences: Effective Intergroup Communication. Understanding cultural differences by Gudykunst - Chapter

Article summary of Bridging Differences: Effective Intergroup Communication. Understanding cultural differences by Gudykunst - Chapter


What is culture?

Culture is seen as a combination of everything that is human made, and as a system of shared meanings. It is also sometimes equated to communication: ‘culture is communication, and communication is culture’.

Definition of culture

There are a lot of definitions of culture. The authors suggest the following definition, because it treats culture as an implicit theory that guides our behavior.

“Culture, conceived as a system of competence which is shared in its broad design and deeper principles, and varying between individuals in its specificities, is then not all of what an individual knows and thinks and feels about his or her world. It is his or her theory of what his or her fellows know, believe, and mean, and the theory of the code to follow, the game being played, in the society in which he or she was born. This theory is used to interpret unfamiliar or ambiguous things, during interactions with strangers, and in other settings. The user of culture may not be conscious of this: it may happen unconsciously. So, cultural members follow rules that they are not consciously aware of, and see the world through their culture. Individuals differ in their cultural code theories, and not every individual knows all the sectors of the culture. Each individual within a culture has a variant version of the code. So, culture in this view is ordered not simply as a collection of symbols fitted together by the analyst, but rather as a system of knowledge, which is shaped and constrained by the way the human brain acquires, organizes, and processes information and creates ‘internal models of reality. “

So, this definition suggests that we are not always aware of the rules of the “game”, in which the culture is the game. For example, if a stranger from Mars asked us to explain the rules of our culture, we may not be able to describe many of the rules, because we are simply not aware of them. We also use culture as a guiding theory, to interact with other people in our societies. But, it is important to keep in mind that every individual has a unique view of a culture, an that no one individual knows all aspect of a culture. However, the theories within the culture overlap, so they can coordinate their behavior in daily life.

Cultural Norms and Rules

Most often, we learn about our culture from our parents. They teach us the norms and communicate rules about behavior in our culture. Norms are the guidelines of how we should behave or should not behave, which are based in morality. Rules, are guidelines for the ways we are expected to communicate, and are not based in morality. These norms and rules are not directly communicated. For example, they do not tell us that we should kiss someone on the cheek for three times when we meet them. Instead, they model this kind of behavior and correct us when we violate a norm or a rule.

When we interact with other children, they also learn us about norms and rules. They also teach us additional rules. We learn to cooperate and compete with others. We also learn about our culture through religious services or school, and through mass media, such as the television. Television is the main medium through which we use what others expect us to behave like.

Cultures and Subcultures

The term culture is often used to refer to systems of knowledge shared by a large number of people. The boundaries of these cultures are often political or national. Subcultures are groups within cultures. These groups share a lot of the values of the cultures, but additionally have values that differ from the larger culture. These can be ethnic subcultures, a subculture of the disabled, an elderly subculture, a student subculture, etcetera. These subcultures also have norms and rules.

How do cultures differ?

To explain how cultures communicate, we need to understand how they differ. For example, we may try to understand why communication in Japan differs from communication in the U.S. To understand this, we need to look at dimensions on which cultures can be different or similar. These are called the dimensions of cultural variability. For example, the dimensions individualism-collectivism. In individualistic cultures, individuals are prioritized over groups, and in collectivistic cultures, the groups are prioritized over the individuals. For example, members of individualistic cultures emphasize person-based information to predict each other’s behavior, and members of collectivistic cultures use group-based information to predict behavior.

In collectivistic cultures such as in Japan, there is an emphasis on contextualism, harmony, dependency, and reserve or restraint. Other collectivistic cultures emphasize different constructs, such as the family in Latin cultures, and the community in African cultures.

What can be said about Individualism-Collectivism?

Individualism-collectivism is a major dimension of cultural variability which is used very often to explain cross-cultural differences in behavior.

Cultural Individualism-Collectivism

In individualistic cultures, the individuals’ goals are more important than group goals. Self-realization is an important goal for individuals in such a culture. So, individuality is more important than group membership.

In collectivistic cultures, individuals have to fit in their groups. An example of such a culture is Kenya. So, group memberships are more important than individuality.

The importance of ingroups

The importance of ingroups is a main difference between individualistic and collectivistic cultures. Ingroups are defined as groups that are important for the members, in which the members care for each other, and will make sacrifices for each other. In individualistic cultures, there are a lot of ingroups and one ingroup does not impact the behavior of individuals a lot. In collectivistic cultures, there are few ingroups (work group, family, university). These ingroups have a strong influence on these individuals.

So, there are ingroups in both dimensions, but the impact of these ingroups differ. In individualistic cultures, the sphere of influence of the ingroup is very specific (so, only for a specific circumstance, the group affects the individual). However, in a collectivistic culture, the sphere of influence is very general (the ingroup affects the behavior of the individual in many areas of their life).

Self-Ingroup Relationships in Collectivistic Cultures. There are three types of self-ingroup relationship in collectivistic cultures: undifferentiated, relational, and coexistence. The undifferentiated facet of collectivism refers to firm and explicit group boundaries, coupled with undifferentiated self-group boundaries. This can happen in two ways: some individuals are not separated from their ingroups, and view themselves as “one” with the ingroup. Second, some people give up their self-identity and immerse in the ingroup (cult members). Most discussions about collectivism are based on the latter, however, this form of collectivism is rare.

The relational facet of collectivism refers to pure boundaries between in-group members which allow thoughts, ideas, and emotions to flow freely. It is focused on the relationship that is shared by in-group members. For this form, it is important to be open to others, to be non-judgmental, and to be prosocial. In Japan this is called ‘amae’ (dependence), and in Korea this is called ‘chong’ (affection).

The coexistence facet of collectivism refers to a separation between the public self and the private self. The public self is entangled with the collectivist values, and the private self maintains individual values. In this form, individuals follow the group norms and fulfill their roles, because they believe that collective actions need to be harmonious. When the individuals’ goals are not compatible with the ingroup’s goals, then those individuals are expected to sacrifice these goals, for the harmony of the group. This is called ‘tatamae’ (conventions) and ‘honne’ (true intentions) in Japan. So, in Japan, individuals are expected to behave on the basis of tatamae (expectations of them), and not honne (their personal goals).

Horizontal versus Vertical Cultures

The two dimensions also differ in their degree of horizontalism and verticalism. In horizontal cultures, people are not expected to stand out. So, equality is an important concept. In vertical cultures, equality is not valued as highly.

In horizontal and collectivistic cultures, a high emphasis is placed on equality, but not on freedom. For example, in Japan they say: “The nail that sticks out, gets hammered down.” In vertical collectivistic cultures (India), people are expected to fit in the group, but they are also allowed to stand out in the group. There is a low emphasis on equality and freedom. In vertical individualistic cultures (U.S., Britain, France, Germany), people are expected to stand out from others, and to behave as individuals. There is a low value on equality, and a high value on freedom. In horizontal, individualistic cultures (Sweden, Norway), people are expected to act as individuals, but they are not expected to stand out from others. So, there is a high value on equality, and a high value on freedom.

What are individual factors that mediate the influence of individualism-collectivism on individuals’ behavior?

There are three individual factors that mediate the influence of the two dimensions on communication: personality, values, and self-construals.

Personality Orientations

Idiocentrism and allocentrism are personality orientations which result from individualism and collectivism. Allocentrism is positively related to social support, and negatively with alienation and anomie in the U.S. Idiocentrism is positively related to achievement and perceived loneliness in the U.S. People are less sensitive to others’ needs, when they are idiocentric.

In individualistic cultures, idiocentric individuals find it important to do their own thing, and disregard the needs of their ingroups, and sometimes do not like the ingroup norms. Allocentric individuals in collectivistic cultures however care about the ingroup norms, and do not doubt about these norms.

Individual values. Our values affect our rating of different behaviors (positive or negative). It also affects the way we define situations. Values can be hedonism, power, achievement, and self-direction. These are related to individual interests. Other values are tradition, conformity, and benevolence. These are related to collectivist interests. The values of security, universalism, and spirituality serve mixed interests.

Some values, such as hedonism, achievement, self-direction and stimulation are individual-based, but this does not mean that it is at expense of any collectivity. Thus, even in collectivist groups, these values may be promoted by the leaders. We can also hold both individualistic and collectivistic values. However, one predominates.

There are also similarities in value priorities across cultures. For example, benevolence, self-direction, and universalism are often most important values in cultures. Stimulation values are least important. Security, conformity and hedonism are in between.

Self-Construals

Another way in which the influence of the dimensions on our communication is mediated, is through the way we think of ourselves. This is called our self-construals. This is an important determinant of behavior. A common distinction in the conceptualization of self construal is the distinction between independent and interdependent self-construals.

An independent self-construal view of the self means that an individual is unique, and independent. People who emphasize this view, aim to be unique, and strive for their own goals. For these people, their self-esteem is based on the ability to express themselves.

An interdependent view involves seeing oneself as part of an social relationship, and recognizing that one’s behavior is determined and reliant on by what others think, feel, and do. So, when someone is at home, the family is the guide for the behavior of this individual. If someone is at their job, then the co-workers decide their behavior, etcetera. For these individuals, self-esteem is based on their ability to adjust to others, and to maintain harmony in the social context.

In an individualistic culture, independent self-construals predominate, and in collectivistic cultures, interdependent self-construals predominate.

Situations can prime us to activate independent or interdependent self-construals.

What is the difference between Low and High-Context communication?

A low and high-context scheme looks at cultural differences in communication processes. A high-context message refers to a message in which most of the information is in the physical context or internalized in the person, and very little is coded in the explicit, or transmitted part of the message. So, the context is the most important in the message. In a low-context message, the message is transmitted mainly through the explicit code.

Both forms of communication are used in individualistic and collectivistic cultures. For example, in collectivistic cultures, people may use low-context communication in everyday communication, but when the harmony of a relationship is threatened, they may use high-context communication. In individualistic cultures, people mainly use low-context communication, but when they want to express emotion in intimate relationships, they might use high-context communication.

Low-context communication is often direct. High-context communication is more indirect and also more ambiguous.

When we understand these differences in low and high-context communication, this may improve the quality of communication with strangers. For example, if individualists do not understand high-context communication, they might get angry.

What are other dimensions of cultural variability?

The major dimension of cultural variability is individualism-collectivism. However, there are also other dimensions. Three other dimensions are now discussed.

Uncertainty Avoidance

When members of a culture are high in uncertainty avoidance, this means that they have a lower tolerance for uncertainty and ambiguity. Therefore, they express higher levels of anxiety, and they feel a greater need for formal rules and absolute truth. They also have lower tolerance for people or groups with deviant ideas or behavior. They also express emotion less compared to low uncertainty avoidance cultures.

In low certainty avoidance cultures, people have lower stress, and accept deviant behavior more. They also take more risks.

However, uncertainty avoidance is not the same as risk avoidance. For elaboration, people in high uncertainty avoidance, do not tolerate ambiguous situations. However, they may then engage in risky behavior, to reduce these ambiguities (such as starting a fight). So, their view is more: “What is different, is wrong.” People in low uncertainty think: “What is different, is curious.”

Differences between these cultures affect intergroup communication. In high certainty avoidance, there are more critical attitudes toward younger people. Also, there is a suspicion of foreigners as managers in these cultures, and in low uncertainty avoidance there is acceptance of foreigners as managers. Also, in high uncertainty avoidance, immigrants are not as accepted. In low uncertainty, this is not the case. These people are also more prepared to live abroad.

Power Distance

Power distance is defined as ‘the extent to which the less powerful members of institutions and organizations accepts that power is distributed unequally”. So, individuals in high power distance cultures view power as part of their society. In low power distance cultures, there is less dependence of subordinates on bosses, and there is a preference for consultation. Thus, the emphasis is more on the interdependence between boss and subordinate. The emotional distance between them is also small: subordinates will more easily approach and contradict their bosses. Egalitarianism is also an important factor which mediates the influence of power distance on communication. It is defined as viewing others as equal. High egalitarianism is related to low power distance, and low egalitarianism is related to high power distance.

Masculinity-Femininity

This dimension of culture focuses on gender roles in cultures. Masculinity refers to cultures in which gender roles are very distinct (men need to do this, and females need to do that). Femininity refers to societies in which social gender roles overlap (men as well as women need to be modest, tender, and concerned with the quality of life). In high masculine cultures, power and assertiveness is highly valued, while in feminine cultures, the quality of live and nurturance is valued.

What is a Cultural Identity?

A cultural identity is a social identity that stems from our membership in our cultures.

The strength of our cultural identity

The strength of this identity reflects the degree to which we see our cultures as important in the way we define ourselves. It seems that when we are in another culture, we define ourselves more with our own culture, compared to when we are in our own culture. It also seems that people who have lived abroad, rate their cultural identity more positively. For example, Asian Americans, and European Americans identify more with the U.S. culture compared to African Americans.

Content of Cultural Identities

The strength which with we identify with our cultures influence the content of our cultural identities. For example, Americans who identify a lot with the culture in the U.S., value freedom, social recognition, and independence more compared to Americans who do not identify a lot with the U.S. culture.

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Article summary of Cultural similarities and differences in display rules by Matsumoto - Chapter

Article summary of Cultural similarities and differences in display rules by Matsumoto - Chapter


What is this article about?

In contemporary times, there is no debate about the universality of facial expressions and cultural differences in the expression of emotions are also well accepted. One study included American and Japanese individuals who watched a stressful movie in two conditions. In the first condition, they were all alone and the Americans and Japanese expressed the same facial display of disgust, fear and distress. In the second condition, the experimenter was also in the room. The American individuals expressed their emotions, but the Japanese didn’t because in their culture, it is not appropriate to show these negative feelings in a public situation. The differences between these display rules are explained by the neuro-cultural theory of emotion. According to this theory, everybody has an innate system which stores the universal emotions and the cultural display rules. These rules are learned. There are, however, no studies that examine display rules across cultures. One of the reasons for this is that there is no real conceptualization of culture. Culture arises from shared behaviors, beliefs, values and attitudes communicated from generation to generation. There have to be meaningful dimensions to determine difference between cultures. According to the author of this article (Matsumoto), the dimensions of ‘individualism-collectivism’ and ‘power distance’ can be used to make predictions about the differences of cultures.

Individualistic – collectivistic cultures

Individualistic cultures encourage individuals to be unique and hierarchical power is minimized. In contrast, collectivistic cultures emphasizes the group and not uniqueness, and hierarchical differences are emphasized. The individualistic-collectivistic differences go along with the ingroup-outgroup theory. Displaying certain emotions depends on the people you are surrounded with. People are more willing to display emotions to ingroup members than to the outgroup members. Individualistic cultures have more ingroups, and because of that, members don’t really feel attached to the groups. In collective cultures, ingroups are really important. Members feel bonded with the other members and they try to fit into the group. Being different can be punished. They also really want their group to be harmonious. Individualistic cultures will also discriminate less to outgroup members than in collectivistic cultures. People of collectivistic cultures display more positive emotions to members of the ingroup and more negative emotions to members of the outgroup, while people of individualistic cultures display more negative emotions to members of the ingroup and more positive emotions to members of the outgroup. This is because the two different cultures want to keep the harmony between ingroups and outgroups.

Power Distance

Power distance refers to cultural differences in power, status and hierarchy. Ingroup members and outgroup members can both include people of higher and people of lower status than oneself. Members in high Power Distance cultures will display more positive emotions to members of higher status and more negative emotions to members of lower status.

Members in low Power Distance cultures will display more negative emotions to others of higher status and more positive emotions to others of lower status. The display of positive emotion in high Power Distance cultures to people of higher status has the goal to maintain one’s lower status in relation to the other. The display of more negative emotion to people of lower status serves to maintain one’s higher status in relation to the other. But, in low high Power Distance cultures, it is not important to maintain status differences and people with lower status can display more negative emotions to people of higher status. If any of these rules are violated, the degree of power distance could be threatened.

What experiment is used in this study?

This study involved American and Japanese participants. Research shows that America is more individualistic than Japan and that Japan scores higher on Power Distance than America. So, Japan is a country that emphasizes status and position differences, while the United States tries to minimize perceived status and power differences among people.

In this study, the participants watched universal facial expressions of emotion and had to rate whether it was appropriate to display these emotions in certain social situations. In the second session, participants were shown more facial expressions and had to judge which emotion was portrayed and had to rate the intensity of the emotion. The following hypotheses were tested:

  • Japanese people would rate negative emotions in outgroup situations more appropriate than Americans and Japanese people would rate positive emotions in ingroup situations more appropriate than Americans
  • Americans would rate negative emotions in ingroup situations more appropriate than Japanese people and they would rate positive emotion in outgroup situations more appropriate than Japanese people
  • The Japanese would rate negative emotions with lower status people more appropriate than Americans and they would rate positive emotions in higher status people more appropriate than Americans
  • Americans would rate negative emotions in higher status people more appropriate than Japanese people and they would rate positive emotions in lower status people more appropriate than Japanese people

The American participants were born and raised in America and they didn’t have any Asian family members. The Japanese subjects were all born and raised in Japan. All subjects were students at major universities in large areas.

The emotions displayed on the pictures were anger, disgust, happiness, sadness, fear and surprise. The pictures involved Japanese and American males and females. The Americans got to see pictures of Americans and the Japanese of Japanese. The reason behind this is that if the Japanese would see the pictures of the Americans they would know that they are foreign, but if the Americans saw the pictures of the Japanese they might think that they are American.

The subjects rated the appropriateness of every emotion in eight different situations: in public, with close friends, with family members, with acquaintances, with people of higher status, with people of lower status and with children. They had to rate the appropriateness of displaying these emotions on a nine-point scale.

The second part of the study was conducted two weeks after the first one. In that study, participants got to view 99 photos, of which 24 photos were used in the first part of the study. These pictures did include people from different cultures, so not only Americans and Japanese people. The participants had to judge which emotion was displayed and had to rate, on a 9-point scale, how intense the emotion were.

What are the results?

The data showed that Americans rated disgust and sadness in ingroups as more appropriate than the Japanese did, and they also rated happiness in public more appropriate than the Japanese did. The Japanese subjects rated anger more appropriate in outgroups and to others who have a lower status. This is in line with the hypothesis of the researchers. The reason for the higher rating of appropriateness in ingroups for Americans is that America is more tolerant of negative emotions in ingroups and they don’t really worry about the harmony of the group. The reason for Japanese people to find anger more appropriate for outgroups is because the Japanese cultures differentiates between ingroups and outgroups as a way to maintain the harmony in one’s group.

Japanese people rated negative emotions towards lower status people as more appropriate, because they maintain power distance relationships, while Americans didn’t rate negative emotions towards lower status people as appropriate, because this would emphasize differences and this is in contradiction to the American culture of equality.

Although a lot of researchers use the distinction between individualistic- collectivistic cultures and Power Distance, there are also other possible distinctions that should be studied. Maybe there are other distinctions that are more useful to describe the differences in emotion display between cultures. Another remark is that researchers should also study spontaneous emotion displays. The Japanese people might show other behaviors than what they actually wrote down. Also, it might be better for the results if the people were asked about what emotion they would have displayed if they felt a certain emotion. Instead, in this study, they judged the appropriateness, maybe they would have displayed another emotion.

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Article summary of The role of emotion in computer-mediated communication: a review by Derks et. al. - Chapter

Article summary of The role of emotion in computer-mediated communication: a review by Derks et. al. - Chapter


What is this article about?

Computer-mediate communication (CMC) is getting more popular these days. CMC can take place synchronous (chat) or asynchronous (email). Communication is increasingly taking place through e-mail and chat and this is not only on a private level, but also on a professional level. E-mail makes work more efficient and is widely used at the office. E-mail and chat also help us to maintain our relationships with family and friends. A lot of people will tell you that they can’t imagine themselves without internet.

Computer communication is so common in our lives that researchers want to know how different online communication is from face to face (F2F) communication. Are our CMC conversations less intimate than face to face communication? Are they shorter? Do we use different language or language styles and do we chose different topics to talk about in CMC? This paper will look at the differences in emotion communication between these two types of communication. Emotion communication is defined as the expression and the sharing of moods and emotion between two or more individuals. Explicit and implicit emotion will be included in this paper.

To examine the difference in emotion communication between the two types of communication, one must first know more about the two types of communication. The biggest difference between these two is the sociality. There are two dimensions of sociality: the physical and the social dimension. The physical dimension means that you are actually together with somebody. This dimension implies that in CMC there are no verbal cues. Bodily contact plays a big role in the expression of emotions, both positive (hugging, embracing) and negative (hitting). Not seeing each other may have consequences for the emotion recognition, because we don’t see the nonverbal cues. This may also impact expressing one’s own emotion towards others.

The social dimension is the extent to which the presence of the other person is salient. When engaging in CMC, you are less aware of the other person, because you can’t see him or her. You know to whom you’re sending an e-mail, but the presence of this person is less salient. It may also refer to whether you know the other person. Yet another meaning of social dimension is the extent to which social norms are salient. Some researchers think that social norms are absent in CMC and that there is no social control. Other researchers, however, think that by the absence of others social norms are made more salient in CMC than in F2F interactions.

The authors of this article think that social presence and visibility may influence three aspects of emotion communication: the overall content and style of the message, the expression of emotions and the recognition of emotions. There is little research on the last aspect and the authors will therefore mainly focus on the other two aspects.

The authors assume that social presence has a similar impact on both the overall style and content of the message and the expression of emotions. These two will depend on the relationship with the interaction partner and the anonymity. The authors also assume that reduced visibility of emotions strengthens emotional style and content and makes it easier to express emotions. The authors reviewed articles about emotions in F2F and emotions in CMC to see what the differences between these two are.

What is the role of emotional talk in CMC?

People feel the need to talk about and reflect on their emotional experiences. This is called social sharing. As soon as an emotion is experienced, people feel the urge to share it. From studies about F2F and emotions we know that the bigger the emotion we feel is, the more we have the need to talk about it. Talking about emotions differs for the two sexes. Men are more likely to talk to women (usually their wives or girlfriends) about their feelings, while women share their emotions with a wider range of people, both men and women. This is probably because women in our society occupy roles that require them to be more emotionally expressive and more concerned with themselves and others than men are.

It is very common that the person you share your emotions with tells it to another person. So, sometimes it’s really hard to trust someone. Research showed that when someone shares highly intense emotions, listeners talked less, showed more nonverbal behavior and de-dramatized their responses. Sharing emotions improves interpersonal relationships and social integration. People who share intimate, personal stories tend to be more liked than people who don’t. Also, sharing emotions is healthy and good for one’s well-being.

Researchers first thought that CMC would be less emotional than F2F, because there is a lack of social and non-verbal cues. There is, however, no evidence to support this claim. For example, MSN. MSN was an enormous hit. People chat with their friends and they can maintain contacts with people from all over the world. It provides new ways of communication and to try out new personality aspects. People who find expressing themselves difficult in face to face contact, may have less problems expressing themselves on MSN. Another example of CMC and emotional expressions is computer-mediated therapy. People who experience anxiety when they have to meet up with a therapist, and people who have restricted mobility, can interact with the therapist through a computer. Studies showed that people are satisfied about this type of therapy. Also, researchers have found that there are the same gender differences in language and style in CMC as in F2F. Women tend to be more emotional and men seem to be less concerned with the socio-emotional context. There is no evidence that shows that there is no emotional context in CMC. The relative anonymity of CMC makes it sometimes even less difficult for people to express their emotions. That being said, it looks like CMC reinforces the communication of emotions instead of reducing them.

What is known about emotion expression in CMC?

This section focuses on whether the expressions of emotions are different and maybe also easier in CMC than in F2F. Is the relative safe environment of CMC a ‘place’ to express more emotions? What effect does the reduced social presence of others have on emotion expression?

Social presence influences facial expressions. Research has found that people smile more when somebody else is present, or even imaginary present compared to when they are alone. The identity of the interaction partner and the power relation with this partner can also affect the amount of emotion expression. It seems that different social context elicit different display rules for emotion. High sociality context are situations in which friends are present and this context elicits strong motives to communicate. In low sociality contexts, there is a weak motive to communicate. This applies in particular to the expression of positive emotions. Research has shown that people express intense negative emotions (like crying) when they are alone and positive emotion (like smiling) more when they are with others. As said above, the relationship with the interaction partner is also of importance for the display of emotions. If the interaction partner is a friend, emotions will be expressed more. If the interaction partner is a stranger, facial expressions will decrease. This seems to make sense, because it’s often not seen as appropriate to show intense feelings to a stranger. All these examples had to do with F2F, but how do these things work in CMC?

The authors of this article thought that more negative emotions would be expressed in anonymous CMC settings compared to in F2F settings. Research supported this view. One study showed that participants in F2F situations who just met and discussed some topics to get to know each other, were less negative about each other than in the CMC situation. Participants in the CMC situation were more anonymous than participants in the F2F situation and that’s probably the reason why the ratings were less positive. Other researchers have also found this effect and they named the expression of strong opinions and negative emotions in the form of insulting, offending or hostile comments ‘flaming’.

What is the effect of a lack of nonverbal cues in CMC?

Lack of visibility goes together with lack of nonverbal cues in CMC. Because of this, some believe that not all the information will be transferred. Nonverbal cues convey the speaker’s true feelings. Somebody can say that he likes some idea, but his nonverbal behavior (facial expression, arm movement) may show otherwise. Nonverbal cues can also intensify or reduce the meaning of a message. Stating something with a smile and stating the same thing with a frown has a different impact.

Because there are no nonverbal cues in CMC, a certain statement can be overestimated or underestimated and in turn this may lead to inappropriate behavior. It may also lead to a negative judgment of the person.

By now you might be thinking that CMC has its own nonverbal cues. A lot of e-mail systems, messaging systems and chats have their set of emoticons. The emoticons display facial expression that human beings make and it also has other symbols that can convey someone’s emotions (like balloons for happiness). Emoticons can thus add expressions to a text. A sentence can be interpreted as a joke if you place a certain emoticon in it, but it can also be interpreted as offensive if you do not place the emoticon. There are no gender differences found in the use of emoticons. Emoticons are used a lot. Researchers have found that more emoticons are used in socio-emotional contexts than in task-oriented contexts. This is because an emoticon is not sufficient enough in a negative situation to solve a problem. Communication is more important for solving problems. One difference between emoticons and non-verbal displays is that emoticons are more deliberate and voluntary. Also, non-verbal displays elicit mimicry. This is the unconscious imitation of another person’s facial expressions, gestures and posture. This happens especially when you like someone or feel empathy for this person. When you mimic someone, this person will like you also more. So mimicry has an effect in both directions. Mimicry is not possible with emoticons (and in that case, in CMC).

If mimicry sustains positive relationships, is it possible for CMC interactions to become positive? Research has shown that CMC groups are more positive in their ratings on several dimensions of intimacy than F2F groups. Researchers concluded that the effect of time on the development of relational bonds is stronger than the effects of the medium.

What is the conclusion?

It is not clear what role nonverbal cues exactly play in CMC. It is clear, however, that the lack of nonverbal cues is not stopping emotional exchange in CMC. Sometimes, people even exchange more emotions in CMC.

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Article summary of Regulating shared reality with micro-dynamics in the form of conversation by Koudenburg - Chapter

Article summary of Regulating shared reality with micro-dynamics in the form of conversation by Koudenburg - Chapter


What is this article about?

A goal of communication is to determine whether people are on the same wavelength. This can be determined objectively, by asking each other about their opinions. But, people may also share a shared reality subjectively, through micro-dynamics. This article describes the role of micro-dynamics in developing and regulating a shared reality. There are three different contexts: intergroup communication, computer mediated communication, and communication within intimate relationships.

For communication to be effective, there should be a shared subjective reality. This means that people share their inner states. People can determine whether this is the case, through for example explicit responses. However, when people are in the same group, they assume that the other shares the same views. Then, there is a third source, namely the micro-dynamics in the form of conversation.

What are conversational micro-dynamics?

People coordinate their speech in many ways, such as interactional synchrony, turn-taking, behavioral mimicry, nonverbal behavior, and communication accommodation. This coordination has a communicative function: people feel more satisfied with their conversations when it goes smoothly. When people have a smooth conversation, they feel as if they are on the same wavelength as their partner (the experience of shared reality). The researchers looked at what would happen if this flow was disturbed. They found that even subtle disruptions affect the experience of shared reality. In these conversations, people report higher feelings of rejection.

Other studies have looked at micro-dynamics such as alignment of speech, and completing other’s sentences and mimicry. These behaviors increase the rating of the conversational partners. When partners ask a lot of questions, this disrupts flow.

Thus, smooth flow of conversation is an important factor for the experience of shared reality between people.

How can we regulate shared reality through conversational micro dynamics?

Disruptions of conversational flow (brief silences) and a lack of spontaneous imitative behaviors, make people feel threatened. They might feel less understood. In order to restore this feeling, they might engage in reconciliatory behaviors such as conformity. Thus, when people are in a group and flow is disrupted, they might shift their opinions to be more in line with the group norms.

What is known about conversational micro-dynamics?

Studying micro-dynamics in the form of conversation should always happen according to the context. There are three contexts.

Computer-mediated communication

This type of conversation is more susceptible to disruptions of flow. Currently, technology is advanced. Therefore, it resembles face-to-face conversations. However, this may lead people to expect the conversations to take place in the same way as in real life. When this does not happen (minor response delays), people might like the conversation less.

Intergroup communication

In intergroup communication, there are more behaviors that can disrupt flow. When people engage in intergroup communication, they use less time interacting, use fewer words, and smile less frequently. Also, they show less immediacy and higher rater of speech errors. People rate communication with ingroup members higher than communication with outgroup members.

Intimate relationships

Partners in a relationship often assume a strong shared reality. Flow disruptions in these types of relationships are not always negative. Partners who feel very close to each other, feel more socially validated when the flow is disrupted, compared to when the conversation flows smoothly. The explanation for this is that the partners use their shared reality to fill in the disruptions.

What is the power of micro-dynamics?

So, micro-dynamics in conversations often occur unconsciously. However, they have a strong effect on our experience of shared reality with others. There are three factors that affect the power of micro-dynamics: implicitness, collectivity, and off-record nature.

Implicitness

It seems that attitudes that are implicitly referred from cultural practices, are better maintained. So, when in a conversation an expressed opinion does not elicit explicit discussion, but is followed by a smooth conversation, this likely happens because the opinion is accepted by both conversational partners.

The off-record nature means that a receiver may interpret a silence as a rejection. However, this can be difficult to address, because the behavior occurs off-record. For example, the interaction partners could deny the rejection. This is related to ostracism: in ostracism literature, others can ostracize other people without ever needing to admit it or apologizing for it. Accordingly, when rejection is implicit, it is more likely to promote behaviors aimed at social reengagement, and explicit rejection is likely to lead to social withdrawal.

The last factor is the collectivity of the event. A silence happens only when every partaker in a conversation remains silent. This suggests that someone’s expression before the silence is collectively disapproved.

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Article summary of Separating fact from fiction: an examination of deceptive self-presentation in online dating profiles by Toma et. al. - Chapter

Article summary of Separating fact from fiction: an examination of deceptive self-presentation in online dating profiles by Toma et. al. - Chapter


What is this article about?

People want to present themselves in a good way when they’re looking for love. They want to present themselves as desirable mates and sometimes even use deception to reach this. Men and women both report lying to an attractive person of the opposite sex. Online dating is getting more popular these days and more and more people are finding long-lasting relationships with the help of online dating. Despite the positive stories, online dating is usually associated with deception. Information could be misrepresented and pictures can be manipulated. A survey reported that 86% of the online daters think that others misrepresent their physical characteristics. In the current study, the researchers look at information on dating profiles and observed characteristics of these people to determine the degree of truth about the information in online dating profiles. The truth together with the participants’ views of their own accuracy are used to determine the amount of deception in online dating.

If you want to get romantically involved with somebody you have to decide which information you convey to this person and how to present this information in a way to make a good impression. This is called self-presentation. Self-presentation is a motive  for engaging in deception. This usually happens in the dating context, because these daters can only be successful if they appear desirable. Online dating profiles can bring about dilemmas for people. People want to present themselves as desirable and may enhance their pictures or exaggerate certain aspects of their lives, but they eventually also just want somebody who understands them and loves them for who they truly are. Sometimes they really don’t know what to put on the dating profile: the truth or a much nicer truth? Research shows that people desire partners that view them the same as they do. Usually people use deception in the beginning stages of a relationship (such as when chatting online), because otherwise people might not be willing to take a chance with them. If people then find somebody who is interested in them and they go out on a couple of dates, they are more willing to show their true colors.

The hyperpersonal model addresses the nature of relational development in the online context. This model suggests that computer-mediated communication enables selective self-presentation. People can plan, create and edit their self-presentation. Online daters don’t have to worry about their body language and they don’t have to worry that they will not say the right thing at the right time. So, it looks like computer-mediated communication prevents undesirable nonverbal cues from being expressed. This is important for deception, because nonverbal behavior is the least controllable and the most likely to convey deception. However, there are also aspects of computer-mediated communication that may discourage deception. One of those things is that profiles may be saved. Some people don’t like that, because then their lie is visible on the whole internet.

Another thing that may reduce deception in online communication is that people might be afraid to lie because they are afraid that during a date, their partners will know that they have lied. The connection between the self and self-presentation may also constrain deception in online dating. People might be afraid that others who know them will see the online profile and see that they have enhanced their picture.

Men and women use different strategies to enhance themselves. According to evolutionary psychology, men search for women who signal youth and physical attractiveness and women search for someone of social status. Men are more likely to lie about their career and education and women are more likely to lie about their youth and attractiveness.

What experiment is used?

In the study, online daters were asked to come to the lab and they had to tell how accurate their profile information is and how accurate they think that online profiles in general are. Their dating profile was checked before they came to the lab and participants didn’t know this happened. Their height, weight and their age was checked. The researchers expected men to lie more about their occupation and education and also to lie more about their height than women, because height in men is usually associated with higher status. They expected women to lie more about their age and weight. Participants also got a questionnaire about deception in online dating. They were asked about how acceptable they thought it was to lie about certain characteristics in online dating. For example, they were asked about lying about height, weight and age. They also had to indicate how many people in their social circle knew about their dating profile.

It is difficult to discover the truth when you ask people to tell the truth about their own lies. Many participants (80%) indicated that their profile page had things that didn’t match the truth. It was found that men overestimated their height and women underestimated their weight. These were not just mere mistakes of participants, they intentionally put this on their profile to look better. The magnitude of the deception was small. People didn’t exaggerate the lie about their height or weight. Most of the lies were subtle, but some lies were very extreme. People who lied about one characteristic weren’t more likely to lie about other characteristic. Participants were most truthful about their relationship status (single, divorced) and least accurate about their photograph. Almost everybody can enhance photographs.

Another thing that was found was that the number of people from the social circle that knew about the online profile correlated with a more accurate presentation of the self on the online profile.

There were also gender differences. As suggested above, men lied more about their height and women more about their weight. The more participants differ from physical norms, the more they tended to lie. There were, however, not many lies about age. There were no differences found between the amount of lying between men and women. However, in the self-reported data, there was a difference. Men reported being more tolerant of deception than women, especially when it comes to lies about relationship status and social status. Women were not tolerant of lies about physical attractiveness. This finding is consistent with the view of evolutionary psychologists according to which men are more likely than women to pass their genes on to the next generation by having multiple sexual mates.

Researchers in self-presentation can’t come to a single conclusion when it comes to a theory of deception. The only thing that they agree about is why people don’t use deception when they could use it. According to studies, people experience anxiety when they have to create and maintain a false image. They are also afraid to be caught lying, because of social sanctions. That’s the reason why the participants of this study used online deception only scarcely. Some neuropsychologists think that people are constrained from deception by their internal reward mechanism. This mechanism even works when there is little chance of getting caught when telling a lie. The internal reward mechanism tries to avoid a self-concept shift. So, we do not want to see ourselves as liars and cheaters, but as virtuous people.

One of the limitations of this study is that there were no rich participants. Participants received a small amount of money for one hour of their time and for wealthy people this was not a reason to participate. Also, people who engage in extreme forms of deception were maybe less willing to participate.

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Article summary of Therapist behaviours in Internet-delivered cognitive behaviour therapy by Paxling et. al. - Chapter

Article summary of Therapist behaviours in Internet-delivered cognitive behaviour therapy by Paxling et. al. - Chapter


What is this article about?

There are many studies that show that therapist factors are important for the outcome of the therapies. One study found that therapist factors and therapeutic relationships accounted for a third of the outcomes in psychotherapy. One review found that this is twice as much as can be explained by specific therapeutic techniques. Not all scientists agree on what is seen as the therapeutic factor. Some think that it is a broad spectrum of characteristics and/or behaviours, like the therapist’s demographics and characteristics. These include their religion, age, gender and personality. Other characteristics and behaviours are the therapeutic bonds and the goals of psychotherapy. Also, treatment methods and therapist factors interact with each other and because of this, it is difficult to distinguish specific factors from therapist factors. This may especially true for cognitive behaviour therapy, because here it is common to discuss the role of adherence and competence, but it is not that common to discuss non-specific factors. One study estimates that only five percent of the outcome variability in clinical trials of psychotherapy can be attributed to the therapist factor. There are also some scientists who do not place a big importance on therapist factors, but overall, there is support for the importance of therapist factors.

Nowadays, we use the computer and the internet a lot. Therefore, it is isn’t weird to us that there is also internet-delivered cognitive behaviour therapy (iCBT). This has been found to be an effective treatment for some health problems, such as panic disorders, major depressions, insomnia and social phobias. Internet-delivered interventions vary greatly. Some are therapist-assisted, while others are not. In some, the patients only contact therapists when needed, while in others there are more extensive contacts over the telephone, chat or e-mail. Meta-analyses have shown that it is important to keep in contact with the therapist during internet-delivered treatment, but there has also been a study on iCBT that showed that patients with social phobia, who did not have contact with a therapist during the treatment phase, did as well as two other groups that did have contact with a therapist. But, it must be said that this contact was with study coordinators and that there are high dropout rates in iCBT studies in which no contact is included. Studies have also looked at the frequency of contact with the therapist. Many studies have shown that a higher frequency of contact has a positive effect on treatment outcome.

Researchers are also concerned with treatment completion. In one study, treatment completion and adherence increased by adding weekly telephone calls with individuals with a panic disorder. But in another study on iCBT for headache, telephone calls didn’t make a difference. Also, researchers still do not know whether the therapist in iCBT needs to be a trained therapist or not. In one study, a group of patients with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) received technician-assisted iCBT and their outcomes were similar to a group that received additional support from a clinician.

Another study with depressed patients had the same results. Some studies found that in a therapist-patient alliance form in online settings, it doesn’t seem to matter which therapist provides the treatment. However, even though it doesn’t matter who guides iCBT, what the therapist does may still be important. There is much interest in therapist factors in iCBT, but there is little known about specific therapist behaviours and whether these factors have an impact on the treatment outcome. Most studies have looked at the time the therapist has spent on the client, but they have not looked at the actual content of that therapy. In this article, the authors studied the actual content of the therapist contact in iCBT for generalized anxiety disorder (I will use GAD in the rest of the article). The authors wanted to identify therapist behaviours and wanted to determine whether therapist behaviours are related to therapy outcomes.

What is the method in this study?

In this study, three male therapists delivered iCBT to 44 participants with GAD in a randomized controlled trial. There were eight online text modules in the treatment and these communicated CBT strategies to the participants in order to help them to reduce the problems they experienced, such as excessive worrying. The modules had to be completed on a weekly basis by the participants. Some of the modules included problem solving, applied relaxation techniques, cognitive restructuring and exposure.

There were also homework assignments for each module and at the end of each week, patients sent an e-mail to the therapist, in which they answered questions about their progress in the programme and also sent their own questions to the therapist. Therapists had to send back an e-mail with feedback on the homework and answers on the questions that the patient asked. Communication could also take place more often than once a week. This was based on the patient’s own initiative. A psychotherapist with experience in the treatment of patients with GAD provided the therapist weekly, with clinical supervision. The therapists did not use a specific manual and had to answer questions about the programme, they also had to try to keep the patients in the programme and they had to give recommendations on how the patients might use the techniques to their advantage.

Coding

The e-mails from the therapists to the patience were analysed and examiners looked at different independent factors. The researchers did not want to include patient behaviour and did not want to analyse the interaction between therapist and patient. The coding procedure resulted in eight coding categories. This study looked at the topography of the therapist’s e-mail correspondence. This way, the researchers tried to see whether there were any stable patterns of therapist behaviours linked to other therapist behaviour patterns. After all the e-mails had been coded for the eight behaviour types, a frequency matrix was constructed. A behaviour was either present or not present. The interrater reliability was also tested and it was very high, almost perfect. This means that all the coders ascribed a particular behaviour in a similar type. The only exception was for the variable psychoeducation, for which the researchers did not find a significant correlation between the raters.

What are the results?

As previously mentioned, there were eight behaviour types. These were:

What is this article about?

There are many studies that show that therapist factors are important for the outcome of the therapies. One study found that therapist factors and therapeutic relationships accounted for a third of the outcomes in psychotherapy. One review found that this is twice as much as can be explained by specific therapeutic techniques. Not all scientists agree on what is seen as the therapeutic factor. Some think that it is a broad spectrum of characteristics and/or behaviours, like the therapist’s demographics and characteristics. These include their religion, age, gender and personality. Other characteristics and behaviours are the therapeutic bonds and the goals of psychotherapy. Also, treatment methods and therapist factors interact with each other and because of this, it is difficult to distinguish specific factors from therapist factors. This may especially true for cognitive behaviour therapy, because here it is common to discuss the role of adherence and competence, but it is not that common to discuss non-specific factors. One study estimates that only five percent of the outcome variability in clinical trials of psychotherapy can be attributed to the therapist factor. There are also some scientists who do not place a big importance on therapist factors, but overall, there is support for the importance of therapist factors.

Nowadays, we use the computer and the internet a lot. Therefore, it is isn’t weird to us that there is also internet-delivered cognitive behaviour therapy (iCBT). This has been found to be an effective treatment for some health problems, such as panic disorders, major depressions, insomnia and social phobias. Internet-delivered interventions vary greatly. Some are therapist-assisted, while others are not. In some, the patients only contact therapists when needed, while in others there are more extensive contacts over the telephone, chat or e-mail. Meta-analyses have shown that it is important to keep in contact with the therapist during internet-delivered treatment, but there has also been a study on iCBT that showed that patients with social phobia, who did not have contact with a therapist during the treatment phase, did as well as two other groups that did have contact with a therapist. But, it must be said that this contact was with study coordinators and that there are high dropout rates in iCBT studies in which no contact is included. Studies have also looked at the frequency of contact with the therapist. Many studies have shown that a higher frequency of contact has a positive effect on treatment outcome.

Researchers are also concerned with treatment completion. In one study, treatment completion and adherence increased by adding weekly telephone calls with individuals with a panic disorder. But in another study on iCBT for headache, telephone calls didn’t make a difference. Also, researchers still do not know whether the therapist in iCBT needs to be a trained therapist or not. In one study, a group of patients with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) received technician-assisted iCBT and their outcomes were similar to a group that received additional support from a clinician.

Another study with depressed patients had the same results. Some studies found that in a therapist-patient alliance form in online settings, it doesn’t seem to matter which therapist provides the treatment. However, even though it doesn’t matter who guides iCBT, what the therapist does may still be important. There is much interest in therapist factors in iCBT, but there is little known about specific therapist behaviours and whether these factors have an impact on the treatment outcome. Most studies have looked at the time the therapist has spent on the client, but they have not looked at the actual content of that therapy. In this article, the authors studied the actual content of the therapist contact in iCBT for generalized anxiety disorder (I will use GAD in the rest of the article). The authors wanted to identify therapist behaviours and wanted to determine whether therapist behaviours are related to therapy outcomes.

What is the method in this study?

In this study, three male therapists delivered iCBT to 44 participants with GAD in a randomized controlled trial. There were eight online text modules in the treatment and these communicated CBT strategies to the participants in order to help them to reduce the problems they experienced, such as excessive worrying. The modules had to be completed on a weekly basis by the participants. Some of the modules included problem solving, applied relaxation techniques, cognitive restructuring and exposure.

There were also homework assignments for each module and at the end of each week, patients sent an e-mail to the therapist, in which they answered questions about their progress in the programme and also sent their own questions to the therapist. Therapists had to send back an e-mail with feedback on the homework and answers on the questions that the patient asked. Communication could also take place more often than once a week. This was based on the patient’s own initiative. A psychotherapist with experience in the treatment of patients with GAD provided the therapist weekly, with clinical supervision. The therapists did not use a specific manual and had to answer questions about the programme, they also had to try to keep the patients in the programme and they had to give recommendations on how the patients might use the techniques to their advantage.

Coding

The e-mails from the therapists to the patience were analysed and examiners looked at different independent factors. The researchers did not want to include patient behaviour and did not want to analyse the interaction between therapist and patient. The coding procedure resulted in eight coding categories. This study looked at the topography of the therapist’s e-mail correspondence. This way, the researchers tried to see whether there were any stable patterns of therapist behaviours linked to other therapist behaviour patterns. After all the e-mails had been coded for the eight behaviour types, a frequency matrix was constructed. A behaviour was either present or not present. The interrater reliability was also tested and it was very high, almost perfect. This means that all the coders ascribed a particular behaviour in a similar type. The only exception was for the variable psychoeducation, for which the researchers did not find a significant correlation between the raters.

What are the results?

As previously mentioned, there were eight behaviour types. These were:

  1. Deadline flexibility: lenience from the therapist concerning deadlines for homework submissions and extra time working with a module.
  2. Task reinforcement: therapists show behaviour aimed at reinforcing assignments completed by the participant.
  3. Alliance bolstering: this is a type of writing that is not treatment specific and it shows interest in the participant’s life situation.
  4. Psycheducation: this is information about psychological processes and explanation about the purpose and meaning of the treatment
  5. Self-efficacy shaping: these are behaviours that reinforce the participant to engage in health promoting behaviours they have learnt through the treatment.
  6. Task prompting: these are behaviours that prompt the participant to work on a homework assignment and interests in future results of the progress of the participants.
  7. Empathetic utterance: writings that show empathy for the participant’s suffering or life situation.
  8. Self-disclosure: writing that describes circumstances in the therapist’s own life situation that are relevant to the patient’s situation.

What are the results?

The most common behaviour was task reinforcement, followed by self-efficacy shaping, task prompting, alliance bolstering, psychoeducation, empathetic utterance, deadline flexibility and self-disclosure. Significant correlations were found between module completion and task reinforcement, self-efficacy shaping, task prompting and empathetic utterance. Deadline flexibility and task reinforcement were significantly associated with treatment outcome. The results show that different types of therapist behaviours can be identified in iCBT. Many of these behaviours are significantly correlated to each other. The types of therapist behaviours also had an impact on module completion. For instance, deadline flexibility was negatively associated with treatment outcome. It seems that deadline flexibility is a marker of slow progress. Task reinforcement correlated with a positive outcome. The behaviours are no inseparable units and therapeutic alliance significantly correlated with every other therapist behaviour except deadline flexibility. Every behaviour except for deadline flexibility correlated with a positive outcome, but task reinforcement was the only type that significantly correlated with a positive outcome. It is complicated to compare these results with traditional face-to-face CBT.

This study had a couple of limitations. The first limitation is that the behaviour of the participants wasn’t analysed. This means that the e-mails of the therapists were analysed out of context. This in turn means that the therapists’ behaviours could be merely responses to the content of the patient e-mails. However, the writers still think that these behaviours were not merely responses. The second complication is that all the patients suffered from GAD and it is therefore possible that the therapist behaviours identified are specific for the treatment of anxiety and worry and the therapist might have behaved differently in the treatment of another condition. Another limitation is that there were only three therapists in this study and that it is not known whether the results can be generalized. Future research should include a larger sample size and should have more therapists in the study. Also, future research should have different types of coaches/therapists and different kinds of psychological disorders.  

  1. Deadline flexibility: lenience from the therapist concerning deadlines for homework submissions and extra time working with a module.
  2. Task reinforcement: therapists show behaviour aimed at reinforcing assignments completed by the participant.
  3. Alliance bolstering: this is a type of writing that is not treatment specific and it shows interest in the participant’s life situation.
  4. Psycheducation: this is information about psychological processes and explanation about the purpose and meaning of the treatment
  5. Self-efficacy shaping: these are behaviours that reinforce the participant to engage in health promoting behaviours they have learnt through the treatment.
  6. Task prompting: these are behaviours that prompt the participant to work on a homework assignment and interests in future results of the progress of the participants.
  7. Empathetic utterance: writings that show empathy for the participant’s suffering or life situation.
  8. Self-disclosure: writing that describes circumstances in the therapist’s own life situation that are relevant to the patient’s situation.

What are the results?

The most common behaviour was task reinforcement, followed by self-efficacy shaping, task prompting, alliance bolstering, psychoeducation, empathetic utterance, deadline flexibility and self-disclosure. Significant correlations were found between module completion and task reinforcement, self-efficacy shaping, task prompting and empathetic utterance. Deadline flexibility and task reinforcement were significantly associated with treatment outcome. The results show that different types of therapist behaviours can be identified in iCBT. Many of these behaviours are significantly correlated to each other. The types of therapist behaviours also had an impact on module completion. For instance, deadline flexibility was negatively associated with treatment outcome. It seems that deadline flexibility is a marker of slow progress. Task reinforcement correlated with a positive outcome. The behaviours are no inseparable units and therapeutic alliance significantly correlated with every other therapist behaviour except deadline flexibility. Every behaviour except for deadline flexibility correlated with a positive outcome, but task reinforcement was the only type that significantly correlated with a positive outcome. It is complicated to compare these results with traditional face-to-face CBT.

This study had a couple of limitations. The first limitation is that the behaviour of the participants wasn’t analysed. This means that the e-mails of the therapists were analysed out of context. This in turn means that the therapists’ behaviours could be merely responses to the content of the patient e-mails. However, the writers still think that these behaviours were not merely responses. The second complication is that all the patients suffered from GAD and it is therefore possible that the therapist behaviours identified are specific for the treatment of anxiety and worry and the therapist might have behaved differently in the treatment of another condition. Another limitation is that there were only three therapists in this study and that it is not known whether the results can be generalized. Future research should include a larger sample size and should have more therapists in the study. Also, future research should have different types of coaches/therapists and different kinds of psychological disorders.

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Article summary of Designing persuasive robots: how robots might persuade people using vocal and nonverbal cues by Chidambaram et. al. - Chapter

Article summary of Designing persuasive robots: how robots might persuade people using vocal and nonverbal cues by Chidambaram et. al. - Chapter


What is this article about?

Many researchers think that robots can function as social actors that can improve our motivation and compliance in the areas of health, education and wellbeing. The success of motivating people will rely in a big way on the robot’s ability to persuade. Many people are probably wondering how a robot can persuade individuals and how these types of robots are built.

Research has shown that there are a couple of behavioural attributes that shape an individual’s nonverbal immediacy. This is the degree of perceived psychological and physical closeness between people. Researchers have identified people’s nonverbal immediacy as a huge factor in the persuasion of others. These behaviours include bodily cues, like proximity, gesture, gaze, facial expression, posture, touching and vocal cues. There have also been studies on the role of nonverbal cues during human-robot interaction, but the persuasive ability of the robot in relation to these cues has not been studied. There are only a few studies that have explored how robots can be made into persuasive agents. However, how behavioural attributes of a robot might improve the robot’s persuasiveness has not been studied. In this study, the researchers looked at how manipulations in bodily cues, like proximity, gaze, vocal cues and gestures affect the persuasiveness of a humanlike robot. The researchers designed a set of nonverbal behaviours for a humanlike robot and looked at how manipulations of these behaviours affect the persuasiveness of the robot.

Persuasion can be viewed as an attempt to change or shape behaviours, feelings or thoughts about an issue. It also enables social influence, cooperation and attitude change. The persuasive ability of an individual is associated with a number of factors, like the verbal and nonverbal behaviours of the person, social interaction and psychological factors (personality). Research has also identified a couple of nonverbal cues that shape nonverbal immediacy. The nonverbal immediacy is associated with a person’s persuasive ability, attractiveness and likeability. These nonverbal cues are (as mentioned previously) proximity, posture, gaze, gestures, facial expressions and vocal behaviours. Nonverbal immediacy and individual nonverbal cues affect persuasion. One research showed that 7% of people’s perception of a person is shaped by verbal cues, 38% by the tone of their voice and 55% by the bodily cues. In public presentations, the amount of eye contact the speaker maintains with the audience affects the persuasiveness of his or her message and also affects the degree of compliance from the audience. Closer proximity leads to a higher compliance. More mimicry of the nonverbal behaviour of others also leads to more liking of the individual and the perception of that person’s persuasiveness. Studies that have looked at teacher- student immediacy show that nonverbal immediacy has a positive effect on the teacher’s perceived competence, trustworthiness and caring.

Nonverbal immediacy also has an effect on student motivation, participation and cognitive learning. Some robotics researchers have developed a couple of applications to deliver positive benefits in health management, education and energy conservation. These applications draw on social behaviour. This study will look at how robot design might shape persuasiveness.

Drawing on the findings mentioned above, the authors of the article had three hypotheses. The first one is that participants will find the robots more persuasive and will comply more with its suggestions when the robot displays nonverbal cues compared to when it does not display nonverbal cues to communicate with the participant. The second hypothesis is that the participants will find the robot to be more persuasive and will comply more with its suggestions when the robot displays only bodily cues compared to when it displays only vocal cues. The third and last hypothesis is that women’s perception of the persuasion of the robot and compliance with its suggestions will be higher compared to those those of men in the presence of nonverbal cues.

What is the method of this study?

The writers combined findings from studies on nonverbal behaviour.

  • Gaze. They found that gaze cues communicate the social accessibility of an individual. When you look directly at someone, it suggests that you want to start a conversation with that person. The robot was designed to look toward the participant when it spoke and to direct its gaze toward a computer screen when it referred to the items on a certain task the participants had to do (this will be explained later).
  • Proximity. Although studies have shown that people’s persuasive ability increases with closer proximity, entering ones personal space (between two and four feet of that person) could evoke feelings of discomfort. Researchers had to find the appropriate balance and they designed the robot’s proximity to vary across a space boundary. When the robot maintained a close proximity, it stood closer to the person than when it maintained a distant proximity.
  • Gestures. The authors have found four types of gestures that are common across conversations. They integrated each type of these gestures in the robot’s behaviour. Iconic gestures are the first type. They are associated with the semantic content of speech. So when the robot says ‘you should drink water’, it brings its right hand towards its face. The second type are metaphoric gestures. Metaphoric gestures depict abstract concepts such as knowledge or an idea. When the robot said ‘Do you know that alcohol absorbs water?’ it raised its hands in front of its chest with both hands facing to each other. Deictic gestures are used to direct attention toward concrete entities in the physical environment. This is usually done by pointing the finger. When the robot talked about ‘I’, it pointed toward itself. The last type is the beat gesture. These are beats described as simple up-and-down movements. When the robot explained complex ideas, it used rhythmic up-and-down gestures.
  • Vocal cues. These can be vocal rate, pitch and loudness. The pitch of the robot was manipulated, as well its vocal tone. This created two versions of each utterance. These are identical in verbal content, but one of the utterances was monotonic, while the other was highly expressive.

The researchers designed four designs: (a) no nonverbal cues, (b) vocal cues only, (c) bodily cues only and (d) bodily and vocal cues. The authors wanted to see how these manipulations affected participants’ compliance with the robot’s suggestions and what effect it had on their perception of the robot’s persuasiveness. In the no vocal cues condition, the robot talked in a flat tone during its entire speech. The researchers manipulated proximity to be either in or out the participant’s personal space. Their gaze was also manipulated. It could either be static or dynamic. The robot looked straight ahead while talking to the participant in the static condition. In the dynamic condition, the participant divided its gaze between the participant and the computer screen. There was also a gesture and no gesture condition.

The experimenters used the Desert Survival Problem to create a human-robot interaction scenario. In this task, participants have to imagine that their plane crashed and they landed in a desert. They have a couple of items, like a knife, torch and a pair of sunglasses and so on. They then have to rank these items, and items that might increase their chances of survival receive a higher ranking. In the human-robot interaction scene, the participants created rankings for everything. The robot then tried to persuade them to change the fourth, sixth and ninth- ranked items higher. After the robot provided its suggestions, the participants were able to change their rankings.

The first hypothesis was confirmed. The authors predicted that participants would comply more with the robot’s suggestions when the robot applied nonverbal cues than when it would not use any nonverbal cues. The researchers also found that when the robot used only bodily cues, the participants changed their rankings based on the robot’s suggestions more than they did when the robots did not use these bodily cues. Vocal cues alone did not increase the rankings. This also confirmed the second hypothesis: bodily cues alone have a stronger effect on compliance compared to only vocal cues. The third hypothesis, however, was not confirmed. So, there was no interaction found between gender and different cues. However, the researchers did find that women rated the robot as more intelligent than men did and that men rated the robot more intelligent in the bodily cues condition than in the other conditions.

The authors point to two limitations of  their study. The first one is that their set of manipulations was not refined enough and that future research should use a better set of manipulations. The second limitation was that the Desert Survival Task created an interaction between robot and participant in a hypothetical scenario. The persuasive effects of the robot might not have been the same in a real-life scenario.

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Article summary of Artificial intelligence and immediacy: designing health communication to personally engage consumers and providers by Kreps & Neuhauser - Chapter

Article summary of Artificial intelligence and immediacy: designing health communication to personally engage consumers and providers by Kreps & Neuhauser - Chapter


What is this article about?

In the field of health care, it is important to communicate. Communication is also important for the promotion of well-being. The efforts of health care aids have to capture the attention of people and have to personally engage health care participants in order to influence their behaviours and health decisions. However, this is not as easy as it sounds. Many health care efforts fail to achieve their goal and this is because they are not sufficiently engaging and involving. Research has shown that health communication efforts have failed because they used approaches that were too impersonal, boring and confusing. Some studies suggest that these efforts might even have unintended negative consequences when audience members do not respond to the messages as intended. This is usually the case when they find messages to be alienating, intimidating or insensitive. For example, there used to be a media campaign that tried to warn young people for the effects of drugs on the brain. It didn’t turn out like the creators of the campaign wanted to. The media campaign was perceived by at-risk youths as a trigger for them to experiment with these illegal drugs. It seems that this campaign failed to deliver relevant health information and obviously it didn’t reach its goals.

What is the role of Artifical Intelligence in e-health communication?

Nowadays, artificial intelligence is used in e-health communications and this offers great opportunities to increase the effectiveness of health promotion programs. This can be accomplished because health promotion programs enhance immediacy and it also makes e-health communication relevant, exciting and involving. The set of communication features that promote emotional and physical closeness is called immediacy. Immediacy promotes enthusiasm and authenticity. Artificial intelligence plays a central role in the design of e-health programs and it has been described as the engineering and science of intelligent machines. Artificial intelligence incorporates human intelligence capacities in computing. It enables the development of sophisticated e-health communication features. With the help of artificial intelligence, e-health applications can be made more human, interactive, emotionally expressive and adaptive. It also helps to enhance immediacy.

Health promotion needs health communication. Health communication program designers must recognize that health communication situations are often intense, emotional and highly charged, because of uncertainties about intervention strategies. These designers must design health communication programs to meet the need of consumers (patients, caregivers) and providers (nurses, pharmacists) and the health information must guide complex and time-sensitive health decisions to reduce health risks. But it is not that easy to accomplish effective health communication.

E-health programs are used to help to provide consumers with relevant health information and to gather information from consumers. The quality of communication of these technologies is crucial to provide sensitive, accurate and timely information. Sometimes, it may be difficult to motivate consumers to follow health recommendations and it may also be difficult to explain complex health behaviour to lay people.

Another thing that may cause a problem is that there might be difficulties in the cooperation between health team members. Patients are often scared by the health care system, feel challenged to participate in their own health care and find expressing health concerns difficult. It is important to equalize the communication dynamic between consumers and providers in the delivery of care and the promotion of health. This must be done to encourage active exchange of information and cooperation to accomplish complex health goals. E-health channels are advantageous channels to communicate with consumers. These programs are easily available wherever and whenever consumers need to interact with them. Consumers see these programs as more private and less judgmental. This encourages information sharing.

Problems with the quality of current health communication

Health caregivers typically focuses on health care procedures and technologies and they do not really focus on the communication of health information. This results in poor quality health communication and this inhibits achievement of desired health goals. Health communication efforts are usually boring and also unimaginative and intimidating. Providers and educators of health care are often emotionally unattached to consumers. Health care personnel has often limited time to treat many different patients and this makes them rush and appear to be superficial when communicating with patients. It seems that health promotion efforts often focus more on presenting scientific facts than connecting the information in engaging ways to consumers. There is also overuse of technical jargon that is difficult for the ‘normal’ people to understand. This can create psychological distance between professionals and the consumers. Jargon is overused in delivering information about health risks, intervention options and health recommendations. This overuse of scientific language is also found in written sources, like pamphlets, handouts and websites. The overuse of jargon leads to patient confusion. Some messages might even be disempowering; they might suggest that the consumers are to blame for their health problems. These messages might alienate consumers and make them feel bad about themselves. Recommendations are often very prescriptive and consumers do not have much input into their health care. Because of all of this, health communication is often not seen as a positive thing by the consumer.

How can we increase immediacy?

Communication factors are important for the effectiveness of health communication processes. These factors include accuracy, fidelity, timeliness, sensitivity and persuasiveness of messages exchanges. One of the most important dimensions of effective health communication is immediacy. This refers to how engaging the communication is. Immediacy is a dimension of human communication that influences physical and emotional closeness, comfort, personal involvement, intensity, enthusiasm and authenticity. Research on immediacy shows that higher levels of immediacy can promote relational closeness and cooperation with the subjects. Immediacy also enhances the expression of affect, increases affective learning, improves students’ perceptions of instructor credibility, encourages active communication, enhances motivation and reduces participant’s resistance. There has not been much attention paid to communicating immediacy in health care and health promotion research.

The few studies that have been conducted on communication immediacy suggests that immediacy can improve health care communication in many aspects.

What artificial intelligent strategies for increasing e-health immediacy?

Studies show that there are a couple of simple verbal and nonverbal communication strategies that can be used to enhance the immediacy of interactions in instructional contexts. These can also be used for e-health programs. To personalize communication, the health promotion intervention should use the name or nickname of the person. These programs should also include familiar terms and provide clear explanations of complex concepts. Tension must also be reduced. Interactive e-health programs should be designed to clarify and elaborate on information, answer questions of users and inform them on what different health decision options they have. E-health information systems should also be designed to seek feedback from consumers, encourage consumers to express their personal preferences and concerns. E-health systems also need to include empathy and concern for the users. This can be done by the use of avatars. These avatars smile to show friendliness and also use certain gestures to enhance active and dramatic nature of health communications. The avatars should also maintain eye contact with the user, to demonstrate personal involvement and use vocal variety when speaking to users. The change in posture can also help to increase immediacy. A relaxed body posture should be used to increase comfort and accessibility. The way the avatar is dressed could also help to increase immediacy. One study showed that colourful hats for patients, health care personnel and family members helped to enhance the health communication and increased engagement between health providers and health consumers.

What is the ChronologyMD project?

Crohn’s disease is an incurable and serious inflammatory bowel disease and costs the United States (the country the writers come from) 15 billion dollars a year! This disease is highly patient-specific and it can also be fatal. This is especially the case when it is not treated well. Crohn’s disease also presents health communication challenges, especially on the issue of immediacy. Patients need to carefully track weight and report symptoms, medication adherence and other data as accurately as possible to health care providers. This information is then used in treatment decisions.

However, it has been difficult for patients to collect complex, precise data. In 2010, the ChronologyMD project was started and this project wanted to provide computer-mediated (AI) support to patients to track their weight, sleep, activity, pain, medication adherence and symptoms on a daily or hourly basis and to share this information with health providers. A Chronology app was created, which allowed patients to put information about their disease into the app. This app sent personalized SMS, with reminders about putting data in the app, appointments, and medication. The patients also received a Withings electronic scale which automatically uploaded the patients’ weight, and the Chronograph app displayed the patient’s data in trend lines over a three-month period so that both the patients as well as the health providers could view the changes over time. The pilot study lasted two years.

Patients were asked for feedback on the system and this increased their immediacy. Some patients pushed for features that would allow them to write their own health narratives, like a journal, into the system. Patients reported positive outcomes to this system. They stated that the app helped them to them track, understand and monitor their condition. Doctors also appreciated this system, because it helped them to get detailed and timely information from their patients. They were also happy that patients wrote down their symptoms and that they felt like the patients were engaged more than before the use of the app.

This project shows that paying attention to the quality of the design can help enhance immediacy and this in turn increases consumer engagement and enhances health outcomes. In summary, the best e-health communication programs interact with users in ways that can promote immediacy by capturing the users’ attention, adapt to consumer interests, provide messages that are interesting, congruent, relevant and easy to understand, mirror users’ emotion appropriately, provide opportunities for social interaction and feedback, use verbal and nonverbal message systems, show empathy and care, and provide people with motivational information and suggestions.

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Article summary of Machines and mindlessness: social responses to computers by Nass & Moon (2000) - Chapter

Article summary of Machines and mindlessness: social responses to computers by Nass & Moon (2000) - Chapter


How do people react to computers?

People differ in their ability to use a computer. Because of this, they will approach a computer in many different ways. People who are experienced with the computer, move smoothly from mouse to keyboard and they use commands automatically. People who are new to computers strike every key because they are afraid that one wrong move will initiate an uncontrollable series of weird or unwanted events. E-mail users treat computers just like phones and gamers see a computer as a window to another world. How people use the computer depends on technological, individual and situational factors.

Despite the differences in computer use, all computers users know that the computer is not a person and it does not warrant human treatment. It’s hard to believe that somebody might reach another conclusion. Robots and dolls have faces, but machines have no faces and bodies and don’t look like a person. However, not all machines are like that. A car might be suggestive of a human face, because of its headlights (for eyes). Computers are not aware of human emotions and a computer doesn’t express emotions. A computer doesn’t even see itself or refer to itself as ‘I’. There is clear evidence between a computer and a human and there are not many people who say that a computer should be treated or viewed like a real person. The word for treating something that isn’t a human like a human, is anthropomorphism. Although people in studies do state that a computer should not be treated like a human, they actually do treat computers like humans.

The authors of this article argue that there is much evidence that individuals mindlessly apply social rules and expectations to computers. In the first part of this article, the writers describe how people tend to overuse human social categories. This is true for gender and ethnicity. In the second part, the writers provide evidence for engagement in overlearned social behaviours, like reciprocity and politeness toward computers. In the third part, the authors describe how people exhibit premature cognitive commitments with respect to computers.

What are mindless responses?

Mindless behaviour has been observed in a wide variety of social situations and it is the result of unconscious attention to a subset of contextual cues. The cues trigger certain labels, expectations and scripts and these focus attention on certain information and divert attention away from other information. People, who respond mindlessly, don’t construct categories based on all the relevant features of a situation, but they commit to overly simplistic scripts drawn in the past. Individuals are responding mindlessly to computers when they apply social scripts, scripts for human-human interaction and when they are ignoring the cues that reveal the essential asocial nature of a computer. The authors of this article have turned to the literature in experimental social psychology and found the use of scripts during human-human interaction.

Then, they replicated the experiments as closely as possible, but with one important change: no human-human interaction, but a human-robot interaction.

To elicit mindlessness, an individual must be presented with an object that has enough cues to make that individual categorize it as worthy of social responses, while it should also permit individuals to note that social behaviours were clearly not appropriate. One might wonder what cues might encourage a categorization of computers as social actors. There has not been a systematic investigation of this point, but there are a few characteristics that distinguish computers from other machines and that are closely associated with the human prototype. All these characteristics are incorporated into virtually every application on every personal computer.

What is the effect of an overuse of categories?

The first experiments focused on whether individuals would carry over human social categories to the computer realm. The first and one of the most powerful social categories the experimenters tested, was gender. They focused on three well-established gender stereotypes. The first one is that dominant behaviour by males is well received. Dominant men are seen as independent and assertive. However, dominant behaviour by women is not well received. These women tend to be received as bossy and pushy. The second one is that people who are evaluated tend to consider evaluations more valid if they come from a man than if they come from a woman. The third one is that certain things are seen as feminine and certain things are seen as masculine and people tend to assume that women know more about feminine topics and men more about masculine topics.

The researchers wanted to determine whether computers would trigger the same scripts and attributions with the gender stereotypes and therefore they designed an experiment involving computer voice output. Participants were told that they would use computers for three separate sessions. These sessions were tutoring, testing and evaluating. The computer had a pre-coded male or female voice and during the tutoring session, the computer verbally presented a series of facts on one of two topics: computer and technology (this is a stereotypical male topic), and love and relationships (a stereotypically female topic). After the tutoring session, the participant moved to a tester computer for the testing session. The tester computer had no voice and the participants had to complete a multiple-choice test, with each question having a correct answer. Afterwards, the participants were told to move to an evaluator computer. The evaluating computer used a different pre-coded male or female voice and reviewed each question, indicating whether the participant had given the correct answer and evaluated the performance of the tester computer. The evaluations were generally positive. The evaluator computer said things like ‘The tutor computer chose useful facts for answering this question’. The evaluator computer played two dominant roles: It evaluated both the performance of the participant and the tutor computer.

Afterwards, participant had to fill in (paper) questionnaires. The first set of questions were related to their assessments of the tutor computer’s performance and the second set of questions was related to an assessment of the evaluator computer.

The results showed that participants mindlessly gender-stereotyped computers. Male as well as female participants found the female-voiced evaluator computer to be less friendly than the male-voiced evaluator computer, even though their comments were identically the same! Also, they praised the comments from a male-voiced computer as more compelling than the same comments from a female-voiced computer. Also, participants thought the tutor computer was significantly more competent when it was male-voiced rather than when it was female-voiced. The male-voiced tutor computer was rated as more informative about computers, while the female-voiced tutor computer was rated as more informative about love and relationships. It is important to note that participants knew that the voice of the computer did not necessarily reflect the gender of the computer programmer. They also indicated (in post-experimental debriefings) that they thought that male-voiced computers were not different compared to female-voiced computers and that it would be weird to engage in gender-stereotyping with respect to computers.

What is the role of ethnicity?

The second category the researchers tested was ethnicity. An interactive video manipulation was used to provide participants with an ethnicity cue. Minority group members tend to exhibit much higher levels of ethnic identification and because of this, the researchers used Korean rather than Caucasian participants. The participants were given a couple of hypothetical choice-dilemma situations in which an individual had to decide between two different action choices. One option was more rewarding and attractive, but less likely to be attained. Participants read the description of the situation, made a decision and asked the computer agent- represented by a Caucasian or Korean video face- what decision it would make. The computer agents also provided a couple of arguments for the decision. After being presented with the decision and arguments, participants answered some questions about the quality of the agent’s arguments, the perception of the agent’s decisions and their own decisions. This was done for eight different choice dilemma situations.

The results showed that participants were using mindless stereotyping. The social category cue (ethnicity) triggered a series of expectations and attributions, regardless of the context in which the cue appeared. Koreans who saw a Korean-face agent, perceived the agent to be more attractive, trustworthy, intelligent, persuasive and as making a decision more similar to their own than Koreans who saw a Caucasian-face agent. This experiment was also repeated with a picture of a person, instead of a video. The participants were told they had a videoconference with an actual person (from the picture) and the results were the same as for the experiment with the computer. This showed the same results.

What is the effect of ingroup versus outgroup?

The researchers wanted to determine whether people would rely on an arbitrarily assigned social category, such as ingroup versus outgroup, when they interacted with computers. During games between groups, people were assigned to either the blue or a green team. The mere act of being labelled and made dependent on others leads to feelings of loyalty and perception that one’s team is much better than the other team. In one condition of the experiment, the researchers tried to create a feeling of shared identity between the person and the computer by reminding the person that he or she was dependent on the computer, giving the person a blue armband, referring to the participant and computer as the blue team and putting a blue border around the computer’s monitor. In the second condition, each participant was referred to as the blue person (armband) working with the green computer (border). Also, the participant was encouraged to focus on individual responsibility.

The manipulation of this study was minimal, but the results were major. Participants in the team condition (first condition) were more likely to cooperate with the computer, to assess the computer as more friendly and intelligent, to conform to the computer’s suggestions and to perceive the computer as being more similar to themselves, compared to the nonteam (second) condition. The research also showed that the mere matching of an armband and border mindlessly induces social responses. In post-experimental debriefings, the participants indicated that the labelling was irrelevant to their behaviours and attitudes.

The results of these three studies show that people do rely on social categories when interacting with a computer and that this is even the case when the cues associated with those categories do not have the same meaning or even make sense in a human-computer context.

What is the effect of overlearning?

Overlearning can also cause mindless behaviour. Overlearning is the use of deeply ingrained habits and behaviours. Once a script is initiated, some humans stop searching for additional context cues and respond according to the script.

What is the role of politeness?

Studies have shown that when individuals are asked to evaluate another person in a face-to-face setting, the evaluations tend to be positively biased. People tend to give polite evaluations in these settings. This can also include lying, because people are reluctant to hurt the feelings of that other person. The researchers used text-based computers for their study. Participants worked with computer-A and were then interviewed about computer-A’s performance.

The first condition had computer-A interview the participants. In the second condition, computer-B interviewed the participants. In the third and last condition, the interview was conducted through the use of paper-and-pencil questionnaires.

The results showed that evaluations were significantly more positive when the computers asked about itself as compared to the two other conditions. This means that people were even polite to a computer. In post-experimental debriefings, participants indicated that they believed that computers don’t have feelings and that polite behaviour to computers is not necessary. However, they show the same behaviors, which indicates overlearning.

What is the role of reciprocity?

In almost every society, reciprocity is encouraged in its members. This means that you should help somebody if he or she has previously helped you. Reciprocity has a really strong influence and some researchers think that it is the central characteristic of being human. In the first experiment, there were two tasks. In the first task, a computer helped the user and in the second task the participant was asked to help the computer. In task one, participants searched the web with a computer. The results of the searches were either extremely useful or not at all useful. In the second task, participants worked with a computer that was trying to make a colour palette to match human perception. Participants were told that by accurately comparing sets of presented colours would help the computer to create the palette. Participants could choose how many comparisons they would make. The more comparisons they made, the more participants would help the computer. In one of the conditions, participants performed task two on the same computer they performed task one on. In the other condition, participants used different computers for task one and two.

The results showed that participants acted according to reciprocity norms. Participants who worked with a helpful computer in task one and had to perform task two with the same computer, performed more work for the computer in task two than participants who used two different computers for the two tasks. The participants who worked on the same, helpful computer on both tasks even performed with greater accuracy on the second task. Also, when the computer in Task 1 wasn’t helpful and participants also had to work on this computer for Task 2, they made fewer comparisons than participants who used different computers.

Reciprocal self-disclosure

Research has shown that people are reluctant to convey intimate information about themselves to anyone but their closest friends and relatives. There is one notable exception to this rule: reciprocity. People will engage in intimate self-disclosure with strangers if they first become the recipients of such intimate self-disclosure from their conversational partner. People who receive intimate disclosure somewhat feel obligated to respond with personal disclosure of equal intimacy.

The researchers wanted to find out whether participants would engage in reciprocal self-disclosure with a computer. Of course, the computer would initiate the disclosure process by conveying intimate information first. Participants were then interviewed by a computer on a variety of topics. In the no-reciprocity condition, the computer asked questions in a relatively straightforward manner. In the reciprocity condition, the computer preceded each interview question with some parallel information about itself. For example, before asking the participant what his or her hugest disappointed in life was, the computer said that 90% of the computer users don’t use the computer to the full potential. Before asking what the participant has done in life where he or she feels guilty about, the computer told that it crashes on the most unpredictable time and that this causes great inconvenient to the user. The information provided by the computer was descriptive in nature and referred to factual matters. The computer never made statements that implied that it had emotions, attitudes or feelings and it also never referred to itself as ‘I’. The second condition was much lengthier than the first and the researchers therefore also decided to add a control condition in which the words used in questions were the same as in the reciprocity condition. Of course, this control condition did not include disclosures from the computer.

The results showed that self-disclosure tendencies were consistent with the norms of reciprocity. So, responses in the reciprocity condition included higher intimacy than responses in the other conditions. It thus seems that social scripts are activated even in a context in which they do not make sense, but also in a context in which the trigger for the script makes the nonhuman source of the information explicit (so when the computer gave information about its accomplishments/failures).

What is the effect of premature cognitive commitment?

Mindlessness is distinct from mere overlearning because mindlessness results from a single exposure to a stimulus, as opposed to repeated exposures. When an authority figure provides information, this information is often accepted uncritically. There will also be no attention paid to other aspects of the situation. This refers to premature cognitive commitment. The researchers wanted to determine whether this premature cognitive commitment also takes place when people interact with computers. Computers might naturally be perceived as authoritative in the content they produce, so the researchers decided to focus on a technology that does not produce content and is never seen as an expert: a television.

What is the difference in specialist versus generalist?

The researchers wanted to know whether the mere labelling of a television as a specialist would influence individuals’ perception of the content it presented. Participants were brought into the laboratory and watched fragments from news shows and situation comedies. Some participants were assigned to watch the generalist set and they were told they would watch an ordinary TV that experimenters used to show both news and entertainment shows. There was a sign on top of the TV that said that it was a ‘News and Entertainments Television.’

Other participants were appointed to the specialist condition and they were told that they would watch programs on two different televisions. They were told that they would watch the news on a television that was only used to show news programs and that they would watch entertainment on a televisions set that was only used to watch entertainment programs with. On top of the news television there was a sign that stating that it was a news television and on top of the entertainment television there was a sign stating that it was an entertainment television.

The results showed that there was a premature cognitive commitment to the notice of expertise. Participants in the specialist condition thought that the news segments were significantly higher in quality, more informative and interesting than did participants in the generalist condition. However, all of them viewed identical news segments. Participants in the specialist condition also thought the entertainment fragments were funnier and more relaxing compared to participants in the generalist condition. This shows that even meaningless assignments of expertise can result in mindless acceptance of content.

What can be said about depth and breadth of social responses?

The researchers did not only want to establish the breath of mindless responses across areas of social psychology, but they also wanted to establish a rich set of results within a domain of psychology: personality.

People usually think that it takes tremendous computing power to create personality in a computer. In this study, the authors made participants work with a computer that displayed a dominant or submissive personality style. The dominant computer used assertive, strong language during a task (you should definitely do this) and the submissive computer used more equivocal language (perhaps you should do this). The dominant computer also expressed high confidence in its actions during the task (confidence level of 80%) and the submissive computer expressed low confidence (confidence level 20%). First, participants themselves were categorized based on whether they had dominant or submissive personalities. The participants were then paired with a computer that either matched or mismatched their personality. Just like the similarity-attraction principle, the researchers found that dominant participants were more attracted to, conformed more to and assigned greater intelligence to the dominant computer, compared to the submissive computer. Submissive participants reacted the same way to the submissive computer compared to the dominant computer. In other studies of these researchers, they found that people are more willing to purchase items via internet when using a matched-personality computer.

What are alternative explanations for the effects?

The experiments in the previous sections have shown that mindlessness is quite a good explanation for the wide variety of social behaviours that the researchers have observed during human-computer interaction. However, over the years, alternative explanations have also been proposed for these behaviours. These explanations allow for mindful responses on the part of the individuals. However, the authors of this article don’t think that these alternative explanations are correct.

Anthropomorphism

If individuals believe that computers are essentially human (anthropomorphism), human-appropriate responses to computers reflect a reasonable application of social rules and behaviour. Anthropomorphism was the standard explanation for social responses to computers. The authors reject this assumption of anthropomorphism, because participants in their studies were adults, who were experienced with computers. During the debriefing, they insisted that they would not respond socially to a computer and they denied the specific behaviours they had exhibited during the studies.

However, there are some individuals who do develop strong relationships with computers (or other objects). Some individuals become emotionally attached to an object and may give it names or talk endlessly to it. However, these responses are not evidence for anthropomorphism, because anthropomorphism involves the thoughtful, sincere belief that the object has human characteristics. The individuals in this studies are unaware of their behaviours and apply a couple of social rules mindlessly. There are differences in anthropomorphism, cherished objects and the responses described in the current paper, reflecting ethopoeia. Ethopoeia is defined as giving a direct responses to an entity as if it is a human while knowing that the entity is not human.

Orientation to the programmer

Some people think that social responses to the computer are not social responses to the computer at all, but instead are social responses to an invisible human behind the computer. This is usually the programmer. The argument is that individuals frame the interactions with computers as interactions with imagined programmers. Programmers are people and it is therefore (according to this argument) not surprising that individuals display social responses. However, the authors of the current article don’t agree with this. The majority of the participants in their research have indicated that they did not have the programmer or any other human in mind during the interaction. Also, in the studies described above that used more computers, the participants indicated that they thought that both computer programs were designed by the same programmer (not two different programmers). If people acted socially to computers because of the programmer, why would they then display different behaviour towards different computers who they thought had the same programmer? This suggests that mindlessness is a better explanation for social responses compared to an orientation to the programmer.

Demand characteristics

This argument against mindlessness focuses on the extent to which the experimental situations or the questionnaires encourage users to demonstrate social responses. Some researchers think that the participants believe that they are asked to pretend that they are in a social situation. They might assume that in order to engage in the experimental task, they are expected to forget that they are dealing with a computer. The writers of this article do not think that this argument is correct. They state that participants were interacting with a simple text on a screen, and there were no sophisticated input modalities, so the computer never referred to themselves as ‘I’, never referred to the user by name, and never implied that they had feelings or emotions. Every effort was made to create questionnaires that did not suggest human traits. So, it can not be demand characteristics that encourage the social responses.

The authors think that their conclusions are rather strong and that they have provided strong counter arguments against the alternative explanations. They do suggest that further research should focus on individual differences. Further research should also focus on direct comparisons with human-human interactions. Half of the participants should interact with the computer and the other half should work on a computer, but they should be told that they are interacting by computer with a person who’s sitting in another room. Then, the differences in responses should be examined.

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