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Exploring sensitivity to nonverbal communication in controlled settings: Methodological considerations
Linköping University, The Tema Institute, Department of Communications Studies. Linköping University, Faculty of Arts and Sciences.
1993 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

One of the issues addressed in this thesis concerns whether and how sensitivity to nonverbal communication develops during a period of time spent in professional education. In addition, this investigation is an attempt to gain insight into the complex questions which arise when nonverbal communication is studied from different theoretical perspectives and by employing different research methods. In Study I the aim was to investigate whether three groups of subjects on different levels of professional training and clinical experience differed in sensitivity to nonverbal cues which were presented ejther visually, auditively or mixed. Three groups of participants were tested with the PONS test. The results showed no statiStical differences betweengroups on the eleven different nonverbal channels or on the four affective dimensions. In Study II the aim was to study the effects of variations in response mode on participants' judgement of nonverbal communication. Research findings reveal that the meaning of nonverbal behavior cannot be separated from the social context in which it occurs and the research conditions under which it is studied. The material which was used in this study consists of twenty scenes from the PONS test. The results show that when participants described their impressions in their own words agreement was very low. But when particip·ants were forced to choose between two alternative situationaldescriptions, agreement increased considerably. In Studies Ill and IV the methodological approach intended to capture how participants on different levels of professional education perceive nonverbal behavior, and how they say they would respond. The socio-cultural perspective adopted here implies that as the individual becomes exposed to new and more specia1ized forms of social practices, he or she will perceive and handle reality in qualitatively different ways. Participants viewed patients' nonverbal behavior during treatment which had been videofilmed. After having viewed each film, participants were first asked to express in their own words how they interpreted the nonverbal behavior they had seen, and, secondly, participants wereasked how they would respond to the emotional reaction which they had inferred. Descriptions were first collected at the beginning of the first term of training and then after one and a half years. The analysis presented in Study Ill shows that after training inferences regarding emotional reactions were more detailed, complex, fluctuating and more frequently related to concrete observations. Also, trained students were more inclined to describe a conflict between patients' overt nonverbal bchavior and feelings which they appeared to try to hide. The analysis presented in Study IV reveals that after training students made more comments formulated as intentions for how to act as well as comments fonnulated as concrete strategies on how to act. A majority of trained students' comments on concrete actions were directed toward the patient's physical disability, and comments on actions intended to divert the patient from negative feelings. After training there were more comments on actions which were intended toreduce negative affect, but very few comments were fonnulated in accordance with the higher levels in Burleson's model for production of comforting messages.

The results are discussed in terms of how different research contexts impose different demands on participants and the extent to which the requirements involved in controlled settings correspond with interpretive demands in everyday interaction.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Linköping: Linköpings universitet , 1993. , 51 p.
Linköping Studies in Arts and Science, ISSN 0282-9800 ; 86
Keyword [en]
Sensitivity to nonverbal communication, Methods in research on nonverbal communication
National Category
Social Sciences Interdisciplinary
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-35365Local ID: 26411ISBN: 91-7871-061-8OAI: diva2:256213
Public defence
1993-04-06, Sal Elysion, Hus-T, Universitetsområdet Valla, Linköping, 13:15 (Swedish)
Papers, included in the Ph.D. thesis, are not registered and included in the posts from 1999 and backwards.Available from: 2009-10-10 Created: 2009-10-10 Last updated: 2012-07-12Bibliographically approved

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