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Audience Perceptions of Background Nonverbal Behaviors Displayed by Candidates in Televised Political Debates
Unformatted Document Text:  Background Behaviors: 2 Abstract Compared to televised debates using a single-screen format, those using a split screen presenting both debaters simultaneously show viewers the nonverbal reactions of a debater’s opponent. This study examined how appropriate and respectful such nonverbal behaviors are perceived to be. Students watched one of four versions of a televised debate. One version used a single-screen format, showing only the speaker, while the other three versions used a split-screen format in which the speaker’s opponent displayed constant, occasional, or no nonverbal disagreement with the speaker. Students then rated the debaters’ respectfulness and appropriateness. Analysis indicated that the opponent was perceived to be less respectful and less appropriate when he displayed any background disagreement compared to when he did not. The speaker was perceived as most respectful and appropriate when his opponent displayed constant nonverbal disagreement. These results and their implications are discussed.

Authors: Seiter, John.
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Background Behaviors: 2
Abstract
Compared to televised debates using a single-screen format, those using a split screen
presenting both debaters simultaneously show viewers the nonverbal reactions of a debater’s
opponent. This study examined how appropriate and respectful such nonverbal behaviors are
perceived to be. Students watched one of four versions of a televised debate. One version used a
single-screen format, showing only the speaker, while the other three versions used a split-screen
format in which the speaker’s opponent displayed constant, occasional, or no nonverbal
disagreement with the speaker. Students then rated the debaters’ respectfulness and
appropriateness. Analysis indicated that the opponent was perceived to be less respectful and less
appropriate when he displayed any background disagreement compared to when he did not. The
speaker was perceived as most respectful and appropriate when his opponent displayed constant
nonverbal disagreement. These results and their implications are discussed.


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