A Decade of Research Exploring Biology and Communication: The Brain, Nervous, Endocrine, Cardiovascular, and Immune Systems

By Boren, Justin P.; Veksler, Alice E. | Communication Research Trends, December 2011 | Go to article overview

A Decade of Research Exploring Biology and Communication: The Brain, Nervous, Endocrine, Cardiovascular, and Immune Systems


Boren, Justin P., Veksler, Alice E., Communication Research Trends


The study of communication has come a long way since Aristotle's conceptualization of persuasion in Rhetoric from the 4th century B.C. Today, scholars conceptualize communication in much more comprehensive ways than did those Greek Aristotelian philosophers. Still, much of the discipline of communication focuses on the way that messages have an impact on individuals or societies. Since the late 1970s a small group of communication scholars, greatly influenced by their peers in other social-science disciplines (i.e., psychology) began to direct their attention to the way that communication influences and is influenced by processes in the human body.

During the early 1990s, a group of researchers proposed a set of meta-theoretic axioms leading to the goal that specific theories could be generated related to the ways that the human body influences communicative messages and behaviors (Beatty, McCroskey, & Pence, 2009). These researchers called this set of propositions a communibiological paradigm (see Beatty, McCroskey, & Valencic, 2001). While we are not going to belabor each of the major premises of this paradigm, it is important to recognize these propositions, as they relate to this review:

Proposition 1: All mental processes involved in social interaction are reducible to brain activity.

Proposition 2: Communicator traits and temperament characteristics represent individual differences in neurobiological functioning.

Proposition 3: Individual differences in the neurobiological systems underlying communicator traits are principally (but not completely) inherited.

Proposition 4: Dimensions of situations have only negligible direct effects on behavior. (Beatty et al., 2009, pp. 5-12)

For many scholars operating from social construction paradigms, these propositions seem rather controversial with allegations ranging from these being overly deterministic (Condit, 2000) to being based on inadequate analysis of prior research findings (Nelson, 2004). Nonetheless, the original communibiology scholars argue that these propositions are "an alternative to the purely situational paradigm that began to dominate behavioral science" (Beatty et al., 2009, p. 14) and that these propositions only illustrate that communication behaviors may be explained through both proximal or distal biological influences.

Based on these points, we present the following review of recent and relevant literature on the biological dimensions of human communication. To start our review, we examined every issue of the top 20 communication journals (according to the Thompson Reuters Social Science Citation Index) beginning with issue one in 2001 through the most recent issue of 2011. We identified those articles that deal specifically with communication and biology. It was important for us to only include articles that dealt with physiology and not self-reports (e.g., self-reports of stress were not included, but physiological analyses of stress hormones were). Studies within the communibiology paradigm either focus on the direct effects of communication on markers of physiological health, or utilize physiological outcome measures as indicators of psychological processes. For example, scholars may utilize measures of heart rate to suggest the direct effect of an interaction on cardiovascular health or they may use heart rate as a measure of arousal (indicative of increased cognitive processing of a message). In both cases, physiological measures are primarily employed as outcome measures in such studies. on rare occasions, communication scholars look at physiology as the independent variable where health (such as breast cancer diagnosis) affects the process and nature of peoples' communication (e.g., Manne et al., 2004). We have omitted cases such as these where researchers did not directly manipulate or measure biological or health variables. Nevertheless, we would be remiss if we did not note that there is an extensive literature exploring the direct effects of health on communication. …

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

A Decade of Research Exploring Biology and Communication: The Brain, Nervous, Endocrine, Cardiovascular, and Immune Systems
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.