ERIC Number: ED220876
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1982-May
Reference Count: 0
Relational Messages Associated with Nonverbal Behaviors.
Burgoon, Judee K.; And Others
Based on the assumptions that relational messages are multidimensional and that they are largely communicated by nonverbal cues, this experiment manipulated five nonverbal cues--eye contact, proximity, body lean, smiling, and touch--to determine what meanings they convey along four relational message dimensions: emotionality/arousal/composure, intimacy/attraction/trust, detachment, and control. Subjects were 150 students enrolled in a variety of undergraduate communication courses at a large midwestern university. The experiment entailed videotaping a male and female confederate engaged in an ostensive conversation during which they encoded various combinations of the five cues. Subjects then viewed brief, video-only segments from the supposed conversation and rated the relational meanings they thought were being expressed by the confederate they viewed. Each subject viewed two conversational segments, one featuring the male encoding some combination of the cues and one featuring the female, plus a baseline segment displaying both confederates at once. Results indicated that high eye contact, close proximity, forward body lean, and smiling all convey greater intimacy/attraction/trust. Low eye contact, a distal position, backward body lean, and the absence of smiling and touch communicate greater detachment. High eye contact, close proximity, and smiling also communicate less emotionality/arousal and composure, while high eye contact and close proximity alone convey greater control. When the cues are considered relative to one another, proximity emerges as the one carrying the greatest weight. (HOD)
Publication Type: Reports - Research; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the International Communication Association (Boston, MA, May 2-5, 1982).