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Argumentativeness and verbal aggressiveness: Type of argument as a situational constraint
Unformatted Document Text:  Argumentativeness 14 Therefore, this study suggests that individuals are not utilizing argumentative behavior to its full constructive use. Individuals should be encouraged to increase argumentative behavior and decrease verbally aggressive behavior in both types of arguments. An edited version of the argumentativeness and verbally aggressiveness scale was utilized in this study to measure each type of behavior within a specific argument. This was done to examine the effect of type of argument as a situational constraint on this behavior. Precedent for such a decision was found in Infante and Rancer (1982), who used an edited form of the argumentativeness scale to have individuals report on their friend’s argumentative behavior, and in Downs, et al. (1990), who used similarly edited versions of the scale to measure perceived argumentative and verbally aggressive behavior of Dan Rather and George Bush, Sr. This choice leads to possible alternate explanations for this study’s findings, explanations that reflect potential problems with the argumentativeness scale. Dowling and Flint (1990) discuss some potential problems with the argumentativeness scale, which may hint at the influence of type of argument. They claim that respondents may be thinking of “relationally based communication encounters other than the rational content-based discussions of issues the scale purports to measure” when filling out the scale, such as fights, bickers, and quarrels. Such a scenario would threaten the “construct and face validity” of the scale (p. 186). For instance, they assume that most people want to avoid “fight/bickers/quarrels” (p. 187). If individuals are more likely to interpret personal issue arguments as “fights/bickers/quarrels,” argumentativeness level may be predictive of public but not personal issue arguments. This tendency to want to avoid these arguments, may lead to the lower scores in the personal issue argument condition.

Authors: Johnson, Amy.
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Argumentativeness 14
Therefore, this study suggests that individuals are not utilizing argumentative behavior to
its full constructive use. Individuals should be encouraged to increase argumentative behavior
and decrease verbally aggressive behavior in both types of arguments.
An edited version of the argumentativeness and verbally aggressiveness scale was
utilized in this study to measure each type of behavior within a specific argument. This was done
to examine the effect of type of argument as a situational constraint on this behavior. Precedent
for such a decision was found in Infante and Rancer (1982), who used an edited form of the
argumentativeness scale to have individuals report on their friend’s argumentative behavior, and
in Downs, et al. (1990), who used similarly edited versions of the scale to measure perceived
argumentative and verbally aggressive behavior of Dan Rather and George Bush, Sr. This choice
leads to possible alternate explanations for this study’s findings, explanations that reflect
potential problems with the argumentativeness scale.
Dowling and Flint (1990) discuss some potential problems with the argumentativeness
scale, which may hint at the influence of type of argument. They claim that respondents may be
thinking of “relationally based communication encounters other than the rational content-based
discussions of issues the scale purports to measure” when filling out the scale, such as fights,
bickers, and quarrels. Such a scenario would threaten the “construct and face validity” of the
scale (p. 186). For instance, they assume that most people want to avoid “fight/bickers/quarrels”
(p. 187). If individuals are more likely to interpret personal issue arguments as
“fights/bickers/quarrels,” argumentativeness level may be predictive of public but not personal
issue arguments. This tendency to want to avoid these arguments, may lead to the lower scores in
the personal issue argument condition.


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