Effect of Verbal Aggressiveness on the Perceived Importance of Secondary Goals in Messages

By Meyer, Janet R. | Communication Studies, Spring 2004 | Go to article overview

Effect of Verbal Aggressiveness on the Perceived Importance of Secondary Goals in Messages


Meyer, Janet R., Communication Studies


In everyday communication, speakers pursue both primary and secondary goals. Primary goals have to do with the specific purpose of talk. They include such goals as obtaining information, providing feedback, or making a request. Secondary goals, in contrast, are more general. They include goals to make a good impression, maintain a positive relationship with the hearer, be supportive, and act in accordance with one's principles (Berger, 1997; Brown & Levinson, 1987; Dillard, Segrin, & Harden, 1989). Persons often design messages to realize primary and secondary goals simultaneously.

Although the ability to design messages that accomplish multiple goals is an important part of social competence, the cognitive processes that influence whether a secondary goal will be pursued in a message are not well understood. The probability of pursuing secondary goals in message design is likely influenced by both situational and dispositional factors. With respect to situational influences, cognitive models propose that speakers rely upon implicit rules that connect cognitive representations of particular types of situations to the action of pursuing a secondary goal (Meyer, 1997; Wilson, 1990, 1995). Such rules might specify that, when opening a gift, one should protect the giver's feelings or that, in a job interview, one should make a good impression. Whether a person pursues a secondary goal is also likely influenced, however, by personality-related factors. Research conducted from a constructivist perspective indicates, for example, that persons higher in cognitive differentiation and/or cognitive abstractness are more likely to pursue multiple goals in messages (Applegate & Woods, 1991; Burleson & Caplan, 1998).Jordan and Roloff (1997) found that high self-monitors are relatively more concerned with an impression-management goal. The two studies reported below are concerned with the relationship between another communication-relevant personality trait-verbal aggressiveness-and the perceived importance of secondary goals.

VERBAL AGGRESSIVENESS

Over the past two decades, an extensive research program on verbal aggressiveness (VA) has been undertaken by Infante and his colleagues (for a review, see Infante & Rancer, 1996). Infante and Wigley (1986) defined VA as a personality disposition that "predisposes persons to attack the self-concepts of other people instead of, or in addition to, their positions on topics of communication" (p. 61). Verbally aggressive messages may denigrate the other's character, abilities, or physical appearance. Verbal aggression also includes teasing or ridiculing the person and the use of profanity. Although the effort to put down the other is often verbal, it may also be nonverbal, involving "facial expressions, gestures, and eye behaviors that attack his or her self-concept" (Sabourin, Infante & Rudd, 1993, p. 247). According to Infante and Wigley, such messages are produced "in order to make the person feel less favorably about self" (p. 61). Verbal aggressiveness has been shown to have negative effects in numerous communication contexts. VA is associated with lower marital satisfaction (Payne & Sabourin, 1990; Sabourin et al., 1993) and can escalate into physical violence (Infante, Chandler & Rudd, 1989). In organizational environments, verbal aggressiveness in supervisors has a negative impact on superior-subordinate communication (Infante & Gorden, 1991). The use of verbal aggression in the management of disagreements is associated with negative outcomes (Infante, Myers, & Burkel, 1994). VA is negatively correlated with cognitive complexity and social desirability scores (Infante & Wigley, 1986).

Although the reasons for verbal aggression are not fully understood, Infante and Wigley (1986) suggested that such messages might result from temporary factors such as frustration ("having a goal blocked by someone, having to deal with a disdained other"), and/or from more enduring, dispositional factors such as social learning, psychopathological reasons, or an argumentative skill deficiency (p. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • A full archive of books and articles related to this one
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Effect of Verbal Aggressiveness on the Perceived Importance of Secondary Goals in Messages
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

    Already a member? Log in now.