The Role of Verbal, Vocal, and Nonverbal Cues in the Communication of Evoking Message Styles

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Using Kiesler's communication theory of psychotherapy and behavior change (D. J. Kiesler, 1979, Psychiatry, 42, 299–311; D. J. Kiesler, A. B. Bernstein, & J. C. Anchin, 1976, Interpersonal communication, relationship, and the behavior therapies, Richmond: Virginia Commonwealth University) for theoretical inspiration, we investigated how verbal/vocal and nonverbal cues contribute to the communication of four interpersonal styles (Hostile Dominant, Hostile Submissive, Friendly Dominant, Friendly Submissive). Data collected for this study lent support to the following three propositions: different modes of stimulus presentation (transcript only, audio only, video only, audiovisual) resulted in varying accuracies in judging the evoking message styles; for any given interpersonal style, accuracy in correctly identifying the style varied depending upon mode of presentation; within a given presentation mode, subjects' ability to judge accurately evoking message styles varied. The relevance of findings for interpersonal conceptualizations of personality and psychopathology were discussed.