Three Theories of Nonverbal Communication

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“Systematic research on the role of nonverbal behavior in social interaction has been common only in the past 20 to 25 years.”(Edinger and Patterson, 1983, p. 30).because that statement was published in 1983, it is apparent that the study of nonverbal behavior has been around for roughly 50 to 55 years. However, that is still a relatively recent amount of time compared to research in other science fields such as chemistry or biology. Despite the fact that this field is relatively recent there are many theories about our interaction with others. This paper will discuss the nonverbal expectancy theory along with two other theories, and describe how these theories can work together.

Before it is possible to compare and contrast the three models, one must first be familiar with them. So what is the nonverbal expectancy theory, and how can it be of a benefit? This theory is based upon social norms within a conversation when dealing with strangers (Burgoon and Hale, 1988, p. 60). A receiver bases the norms in the conversation based on the communicator’s: age, gender, cultural background, degree of acquaintance, liking, environmental constraints, and the communication functions being accomplished (Burgoon and Hale, 1988, p. 60). According to Burgoon and Hale, iolating social norms may actually prove more successful than conforming to society’s

views on correctness (Burgoon and Hale, 1988, p. 58). “Nonverbal expectancy violations theory holds that positive violations produce more favorable communication outcomes than conformity to expectations, while negative violations produce less favorable ones…”(Burgoon and Hale, 1988, p. 58). This theory was originally created to explain why changes in conversational distance can lead to the...

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... and Halls theory. These three theories work together harmoniously in the field of nonverbal communication. Nonverbal theories have continued to develop over the years, and will someday lead researchers into new ideas of nonverbal communication.

Works Cited

Burgoon, J., & Hale, J. (1988). Nonverbal Expectancy Violations: Model Elaboration and Application to Immediacy Behaviors. Communication Monographs, 55(1), 58-79. Retrieved from ERIC database.

Edinger, J., & Patterson, M. (1983). Nonverbal involvement and social control. Psychological Bulletin, 93(1), 30-56. doi:10.1037/0033-2909.93.1.30.

Goar, H. (2009). Personal Space. (pp. 1-7). Great Neck Publishing. Retrieved from Research Starters - Sociology database

Verderber, K, & Verderber, R. (2004) Interpersonal Communication Concepts, Skills, and Contexts. Inter-Act Tenth Edition.Oxford University Press
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