Nonverbal Behavior and Communication

Nonverbal Behavior and Communication

Nonverbal Behavior and Communication

Nonverbal Behavior and Communication

Excerpt

An attractive feature of nonverbal communication as a research area is that it has captured the interest of scholars of different disciplinary backgrounds—psychologists, linguists, anthropologists, psychiatrists, and sociologists-with each discipline bringing to the area its peculiar theoretical and methodological perspectives and biases. Each of these disciplines also tends to have a favorite topic or problem area within the general domain of nonverbal communication. For example, for fairly obvious reasons, psychiatrists have been primarily interested in the expressive correlates of affective experiences, especially anxiety, and anthropologists have done most of the early work on proxemics. Along with the varying yet overlapping topical concerns that the different disciplines bring to the area of nonverbal communication are major differences in methodology.

Methodological Issues

Psychologists who are very much concerned with objectivity, measurement, and quantification have brought nonverbal communication into the laboratory. The advantages of this approach are obvious, but there are disadvantages as well. Typical of the experimental method is the manipulation of one variable, and the monitoring of the effects of this manipulation on the dependent variable. It is, of course, possible to manipulate more than one independent variable at a time, but even in such increasingly popular multivariate designs, the experimenter tends to look at the effects of the manipulations, individually and in combination, upon a single dependent variable. The reason for this is that while researchers are becoming familiar with statistical procedures that assess the interaction of several independent variables, few of them are familiar with procedures that assess the interaction of several dependent variables. This methodo-

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