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Theories of Nonverbal Behavior: A Critical Review of Proxemics Research

Theories of Nonverbal Behavior: A Critical Review of Proxemics Research

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Published by Irina Moldovan
Author(s): Dair L. Gillespie and Ann LefflerReviewed work(s):Source: Sociological Theory, Vol. 1 (1983), pp. 120-154
Author(s): Dair L. Gillespie and Ann LefflerReviewed work(s):Source: Sociological Theory, Vol. 1 (1983), pp. 120-154

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Published by: Irina Moldovan on Nov 23, 2012
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Theories of Nonverbal Behavior: A Critical Review of Proxemics ResearchAuthor(s): Dair L. Gillespie and Ann LefflerReviewed work(s):Source:
Sociological Theory,
Vol. 1 (1983), pp. 120-154Published by:
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Accessed: 01/11/2012 06:05
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Thischapterreviewsdevelopmentsanddifficultiesin thenonverbalbehavior literature.Despitethe atheoretical biasofthediscipline, four implicitmodelsmaybefoundthere-theethological,theenculturation,theinternalstates,andthe situationalresource models.Afterreviewingresearchbased on thesemodels,we conclude that thesitua-tionalresourceparadigmhasmuch tooffernonverbaltheorizing.
THEORIESOF NONVERBALBEHAVIOR:ACRITICALREVIEWOFPROXEMICSRESEARCH
DairL.Gillespie
UNIVERSITYOFUTAH
AnnLeffler
UTAH STATEUNIVERSITY
Two centralshortcomingsaregenerallyacknowledgedconcern-ingtheliteratureonnonverbalbehavior:thefield lackssystematictheory,anditis a morassofconceptualandmethodologicalproblems.(See,forexample,Birdwhistell,1970;Duncan andFiske,1977;Edney,1974;Evans andHoward,1973;Harper,Wiens,andMatarazzo,1978;Hayduk,1978;Henley,1973a,1977;Kendon,1975;Weinerandothers,1972.)The areaisrelatively young,spansa numberofdisciplines,andprovidesarichvarietyof observationsandadhoc studies.But asinmanynewfields,the choiceof variablesis ofteneclectic-basedmore120
 
Theoriesof Nonverbal Behavioronresearch customornoveltythanontheoreticalconsiderations.Moreover,statisticalsignificancerather thancontributiontooverallvariance is used to determinemeaningfulness,and it is assumedthatallstatisticallysignificantresultsarecompatibleandequally important.As a result one encounters mereshoppinglistsofnonverbaldependentvariables(approachdistance,eyecontact,and soforth)orindependentvariables(affiliation,emotionalarousal,culturalnorms,gender,andsoforth).Littleeffortis devotedto ascertainthe relativecontributionsofspecificindependentvariables to varianceinspecificdependentvari-ables. Inconsequence,pastichesofpossiblyinconsistentfindingsaresubstitutedfortheoryandconceptual developmentstend to beposthocandad hocinterpretationsof individual studies rather than aguidetohypothesesforthe field itself.Nonetheless,itwill bearguedhere thatfromthenonverballiteraturemaybeinferreda framework within which nonverbaltheorycanbespecifiedandadvanced.Theimplicitcausal modelsunderlyingthe literature restupontheconflicting postulatesoffourclassicpara-digmsabouthumanbehavior: theethological/sociobiological para-digm,theenculturation/socializationparadigm,theinternal statesparadigm,and the situationalresourceparadigm.1Since thesepara-digms generateconflictingand testablepredictionsconcerningthegenesisofnonverbal behavior and thetypeanddegreeofnonverbalvariance within andbetweenindividuals,their relativemeritsmaybeempiricallyassessed oncetheyaretheoreticallycontrastedwithin thefour-paradigmframework.Whatfollows, therefore,is atheoreticaltreatmentofeach.We shall findthat the situationalresourceparadigmhasanimportantcontribution tooffernonverbaltheorizing.Theethological paradigmasserts thatnonverbal behavior isatleastpartlyinnate orgeneticallydetermined,withcertaingeneralpat-ternsinflexible withinspecies.Theenculturationparadigmclaimsthatnonverbalbehaviorreflectscontingent,somewhatarbitrary,but indi-viduallystablenorms inculcated inallmembersofasocietythroughsocialization. Theinternal statesparadigmcontends thatnonverbalbehavior,whetherinnateorlearned,fluctuates as a functionofego'sindividualattributes orinternalpsychologicalstates.Finally,the situa-tionalresourceparadigmasserts thatnonverbalbehavioris learned butvarieswithinculturesand acrossinternalstates,dependingon thestatuses ofall thoseconcerned and ontheconstraints of thesituation.121

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