Non-verbal communication studies

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Argyle, Alkema and Gilmour (1971)

Aim  - To see if tone of voice has any effect when interpreting a verbal message

Method - Different groups of participants listened to either friendly messages or hostile messages delivered in either friendly or hostile tones of voice. This meant that some participants heard hostile messages in friendly tones and vice versa.

Results - When participants were asked to interpret the messages, they found that tone of voice has about 5 times the effect of the verbal message itself.

Conclusion - Tone of voice is extremely important in how people interpret verbal messages.

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Davitz and Davitz (1961)

Aim - To see the effect of paralinguistics on the assessment of emotion.

Method - Participants were aksed to listen to tape recordings and assess the speakers emotions from the paralinguistic cues: tone of voice, emphasis, and intonation.

Results - There was a high level of accuracy in recodnising these emotions: affection, amusement, disgust, and fear.

Conclusion - Paralinguistics has a great importance when judging emotion.

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Kendon (1967)

Aim - To see how eye movement effects the flow of conversation.

Method - Pairs of participants were asked to get acquainted. Their conversations were secretly watched by observers through a one-way mirror system.

Results - As one person was about to speak, they looked away from the other person and briefly avoided eye contact. They would then give the other person a prolonged look when they were about to finish what they were saying. This indicated to the other person that they could begin to speak. If the prolonged look didn't happen, there was a pause in conversation.

Conclusion - Eye movements signal turn taking in conversation.

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Argyle (1968)

Aim : To see how interrupting eye contact affects conversation.

Method : Pairs of participants were observed having conversations. In half of the conversations, one of the participants wore dark glasses so that the other could not recieve eye contact.

Results : When one of the participants wore dark glasses, there were more pauses and interruptions than when dark glasses were not worn.

Conclusion : Eye contact is important in ensuring the smooth flow of conversation.

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Argyle (1968)

Aim : To see how interrupting eye contact affects conversation.

Method : Pairs of participants were observed having conversations. In half of the conversations, one of the participants wore dark glasses so that the other could not recieve eye contact.

Results : When one of the participants wore dark glasses, there were more pauses and interruptions than when dark glasses were not worn.

Conclusion : Eye contact is important in ensuring the smooth flow of conversation.

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Hess (1963)

Aim : To see the effect of pupil dilation on emotion.

Method : Participants were shown two nearly identical pictures of the same girl and asked which picture was more attractive. The only difference between the two pictures was that, in one of them, the girl's pupils were dilated, and in the other they were not.

Results : The majority of participants said that the picture of the girl with dilated pupils was more attractive. Strangely though, they could not say why they thought so.

Conclusion : Pupil dilation has an unconscious but powerful effect on emotion.

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Sackeim (1978)

Aim : To look at the relationship between facial expressions and the hemispheres of the brain.

Method : Pictures of peoples faces showing different emotions were cut down the middle. New pictures were created with each half face and its mirror image. Then each pair of new faces was shown to the participants. They were asked which picture they liked better.

Results : The majority of participants said they preferred the picture of the left half face and its reflection. When asked why, the participants said that the picture looked warmer.

Conclusion : The left side of the face seems to express more emotion than the right side.

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McGinley (1975)

Aim : To see the effect of postural echo when having a conversation.

Method : A confederate of the experimenter approached individuals in a social setting and had conversations with them. In half of the meetings, the confederate echoed the posture of the person they were talking to, and in the rest of the meetings they didn't. Afterwards, the experimenter approached the individuals and asked them what they thought of the confederate.

Results : When postural echo was used, the people questioned liked the confederate and thought that they got on well together. When postural echo wasn't used, the confederate wasn't liked as much and the conversations felt awkward.

Conclusion : Postural echo gives an unconscious message of friendliness.

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McGinley, Lefevre and McGinley (1975)

Aim : To see the effect of open and closed posture when having a conversation.

Method : A confederate of the experimenter approached individuals in a social setting and had conversations with them. In half of the conversations they carried and open posture, and in the other half they carried a closed posture. Afterwards, the experimenter approached the individuals and asked them about their opinions of the confederate. 

Results : When showing an open posture, the confederate was seen as friendly and attractive. When not they seemed unfriendly and less attractive.

Conclusion : The posture that someone adopts can make a difference to how much they are liked.

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lynn and Mynier (1993)

Aim : To see the effect of gestures used by waiters and waitresses on the tipping behaviour of customers in a restaurant.

Method : While taking orders from seated customers, waiters and waitresses were instructed to either stand upright or squat down near the customer (squatting down makes eye contact more possible).

Results : When the staff squatted, larger tips were recieved compared with when they took orders standing upright.

Conclusion : The gesture of squatting down near a seated customer to take an order will have a positive impact on tipping behaviour.

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Fisher, Rytting and Heslin (1976)

Aim : to see the effect of touch on peoples attitudes.

Method : Female students in a library were handed books by the librarian. The librarian was a confederate of the experimenter. Half of the students were briefley touched on the hand by the librarian when she gave them their books, and half were not. 

Results : When questioned later, the students that were touched had a more positive attitude towards the library and the librarian than those who weren't touched. None of the students were aware that they'd been touched.

Conclusion : Touch can have an unconscious and positive effect on our attitudes.

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Argyle and Dean (1965)

Aim : to see if sex differences affect personal space.

Methods : One at a time, participants were asked to sit with the confederate of the experiment. In one condition, the confederate was the same sex as the participant, and in the other they weren't. The confederate sat at different distances from the participant and continually looked into the participants eyes.

Results : The participants tended to break eye contact with the confederate of the opposite sex at a greater distance apart than when the confederate was the same sex. Argyle and Dean thought that this was the point at which personal space was being invaded.

Conclusion : We prefer to have a greater amount of personal space between ourselves and members of the opposite sex during normal conversation.

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Willis (1966)

Aim : To see if age has an effect on personal space.

Method : Willis observed almost 800 individuals in different social situations.

Results : People he observed stood closer to people their own age and further away from people who were much older or younger than themselves.

Conclusion : Age difference affects how close people will stand to each other.

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Williams (1971)

Aim : To see if personality has an effect on personal space.

Method : College students were given personality tests to see if they were extrovert or introvert. They were then sent to an office one by one to recieve their college grades from a tutor. The researchers noted where they chose to sit in the office when they were recieveing their grades.

Results : Introverts sat further away from the tutor than extroverts.

Conclusion : Whether someone is extrovert or introvert will affect their use of personal space.

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Summer (1969)

Aim : To see if there are cultural differences in the use of personal space.

Method : Summmer observed groups of white English people and groups of Arab people in conversation.

Results : The comfortable conversation distance for the English was 1-1.5m, whereas the comfortable distance for the Arab people was much less than that.

Conclusion : The use of personal space in normal conversation varies with culture.

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Zahn (1991)

Aim : To see if status effects personal space.

Method : Zahn observed people of equal status approaching each other to have a conversation. He also observed people of unequal status approaching each other.

Results : They found that people of lower status did not approach higher status people with the same degree of closeness as those of equal status.

Conclusion : The use of personal space varies with differences in status when approaching other people.

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