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A field test of equivocation theory: Apologies by Canadian churches to indigenous people
Unformatted Document Text:  2 A Field Test of Equivocation Theory: Apologies by Canadian Churches to Indigenous Peoples Bavelas, Black, Chovil, and Mullett (1990) summarized a decade of research on equivocal communication, starting with the development of a reliable measurement procedure (Bavelas & Smith, 1982) and continuing with 22 experiments (Bavelas, et al., 1990, chs.4-9). These data supported the theory that equivocation arises as an avoidance strategy in situations where the available clear or direct responses would lead to negative consequences. However, at least two obvious limitations for future research still remained: First, their formal studies were conducted in the lab using role- playing procedures, with the exception of one field experiment and some qualitative analyses of political communication (Bavelas, Black, Bryson, & Mullett, 1988; Bavelas et al., 1990, ch. 9). Second, although their decoder-based measurement procedure yields rich and highly reliable quantitative data, it is so time-consuming that it might not be possible for other researchers to use (Bavelas et al., 1990, pp. 51-52). Moreover, this measure was developed for application to relatively short, single responses and might not apply to texts of indefinite length, such as occur in contexts outside a controlled experiment. Although subsequent studies of equivocation by other researchers (e.g., Bull, 1998; Donohue, 1998; Galasinski, 1998), have expanded and extended the scope of the phenomenon to outside the lab, the above two issues have still not been fully

Authors: Bavelas, Janet.
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A Field Test of Equivocation Theory:
Apologies by Canadian Churches to Indigenous Peoples
Bavelas, Black, Chovil, and Mullett (1990) summarized a decade of research on
equivocal communication, starting with the development of a reliable measurement
procedure (Bavelas & Smith, 1982) and continuing with 22 experiments (Bavelas, et al.,
1990, chs.4-9). These data supported the theory that equivocation arises as an
avoidance strategy in situations where the available clear or direct responses would
lead to negative consequences. However, at least two obvious limitations for future
research still remained: First, their formal studies were conducted in the lab using role-
playing procedures, with the exception of one field experiment and some qualitative
analyses of political communication (Bavelas, Black, Bryson, & Mullett, 1988; Bavelas et
al., 1990, ch. 9). Second, although their decoder-based measurement procedure yields
rich and highly reliable quantitative data, it is so time-consuming that it might not be
possible for other researchers to use (Bavelas et al., 1990, pp. 51-52). Moreover, this
measure was developed for application to relatively short, single responses and might
not apply to texts of indefinite length, such as occur in contexts outside a controlled
experiment.
Although subsequent studies of equivocation by other researchers (e.g., Bull,
1998; Donohue, 1998; Galasinski, 1998), have expanded and extended the scope of
the phenomenon to outside the lab, the above two issues have still not been fully


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