Gender, Power, and Communication in Human Relationships

By Pamela J. Kalbfleisch; Michael J. Cody | Go to book overview
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ASA and females for high and low decoding ability (probably with another measure than the PONS, which measures one's ability to read a woman's rather than a man's nonverbal cues). If women turn out to be able to identify sexually aggressive men (as risky situations have been identified), research might turn to whether any specific nonverbal behaviors are associated with high ASA.7 Although laboratory research cannot provide a definitive answer to the question, it could be a first step toward greater awareness of the factors involved in sexual assault.

Whatever direction research moves in, it is extremely gratifying that it does move. The debates by different investigators (especially Hall and myself) about the meaning of their studies may seem tediously like the proverbial argument over whether the glass is half full or half empty. But to have wide recognition of the status as well as the solidarity aspects of nonverbal behavior, and such ferment over explanations of gender differences, where before there was little of either (recognition or ferment), seems to me to be a marvelous advance in the 20 years since I began to study nonverbal communication and power.


I wish to thank Diana Brief for her assistance with literature search; the UCLA Academic Senate Research Committee and Center for the Study of Women for financial support; and Cheris Kramarae and Marianne LaFrance, whom I did not consult directly in writing this paper (and who thus may not be blamed for it), but whose generously shared resources and ideas I have called upon.


Ambady N., & Rosenthal R. ( 1992). "Thin slices of expressive behavior as predictors of interpersonal consequences: A meta-analysis". Psychological Bulletin, 111, 256-274.

Archer D., & Akert R. M. ( 1977). "Words and everything else: Verbal and nonverbal cues in social interpretation". Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 6, 443-449.

Baglan T., & Nelson D. J. ( 1992, Spring). "A comparison of the effects of sex and status on the perceived appropriateness of nonverbal behaviors". Women's Studies in Communication, 5, 29-38.

Berger J., Conner T., & Fisek M. H. ( 1974). Expectation states theory: A theoretical research program. Cambridge, MA: Winthrop.

Borden R. J., & Homleid G. M. ( 1979). Handedness and lateral positioning in heterosexual couples: Are men still strong-arming women? Sex Roles, 4, 67-73.

Brown C. E., Dovidio J. F., & Ellyson S. L. ( 1990). "Reducing sex differences in visual displays of dominance: Knowledge is power". Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 16, 358-368.

Brown R. ( 1965). Social psychology. New York: Free Press.

Buck R. ( 1994). The communication of emotion. New York: Guilford.

Bull R., & Gibson-Robinson E. ( 1981). "The influences of eye-gaze, style of dress, and locality on the amount of money donated to a charity". Human Relations, 34, 895-905.

This proposal does not mean to suggest that male sexual aggression is an individual personality problem rather than a social problem, but it does accept that there is individual variation in men's sexual aggressiveness.


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