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Engaging the Surveillance System: Cognitive, Emotional, and Physiological Responses to Inappropriate Leader Displays
Unformatted Document Text:  Leader Displays 7 were shown a series of news reports of national crises followed by televised displays of Clinton where he appeared to be responding to the news. In the presidential reaction segments Clinton was shown but his voice was covered by a reporter voiceover narration. 4 When the news images were negative, Clinton displays that were negative and not intense, that is, calm but stern, were evaluated as appropriate. When the news images were positive, displays that were positive and intense were seen as inappropriate. News story-presidential reaction sequences regarded as appropriate resulted in faster visual recognition times, more favorable thought listing comments, and prompted fewer thoughts than message sequences seen as inappropriate. Inappropriate displays, on the other hand, activated normative interpretations and focused attention more sharply on Clinton, producing critical assessments of the president’s nonverbal behavior. In effect, inappropriate Clinton displays amounted to the type of nonverbal expectancies violation discussed in the interpersonal communication literature (see Burgoon & LePoire, 1993). These findings point to the importance of the news context in evaluations of leader expressive displays and suggest that viewers employed an emotional appropriateness heuristic to make sense of and categorize the president’s nonverbal behavior. Convergent data from the first study suggested that an evaluation of the display’s emotional appropriateness is made by the viewer at different levels of processing. The news environment plays an important role in contextualizing leader displays. For instance, upon the broadcast of negatively compelling news event (e.g. a terrorist action, military strike, or political crisis), negative and low intensity presidential reactions are expected and deemed appropriate. Positive or highly intense reactions, on the other hand, tend to violate normative expectations of appropriate political behavior. If

Authors: Bucy, Erik. and Bradley, Samuel.
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Leader Displays 7
were shown a series of news reports of national crises followed by televised displays of
Clinton where he appeared to be responding to the news. In the presidential reaction
segments Clinton was shown but his voice was covered by a reporter voiceover
narration.
4
When the news images were negative, Clinton displays that were negative and
not intense, that is, calm but stern, were evaluated as appropriate. When the news images
were positive, displays that were positive and intense were seen as inappropriate. News
story-presidential reaction sequences regarded as appropriate resulted in faster visual
recognition times, more favorable thought listing comments, and prompted fewer
thoughts than message sequences seen as inappropriate. Inappropriate displays, on the
other hand, activated normative interpretations and focused attention more sharply on
Clinton, producing critical assessments of the president’s nonverbal behavior. In effect,
inappropriate Clinton displays amounted to the type of nonverbal expectancies violation
discussed in the interpersonal communication literature (see Burgoon & LePoire, 1993).
These findings point to the importance of the news context in evaluations of
leader expressive displays and suggest that viewers employed an emotional
appropriateness heuristic to make sense of and categorize the president’s nonverbal
behavior. Convergent data from the first study suggested that an evaluation of the
display’s emotional appropriateness is made by the viewer at different levels of
processing. The news environment plays an important role in contextualizing leader
displays. For instance, upon the broadcast of negatively compelling news event (e.g. a
terrorist action, military strike, or political crisis), negative and low intensity presidential
reactions are expected and deemed appropriate. Positive or highly intense reactions, on
the other hand, tend to violate normative expectations of appropriate political behavior. If


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