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Audience Perceptions of Background Nonverbal Behaviors Displayed by Candidates in Televised Political Debates
Unformatted Document Text:  Background Behaviors: 5 H1: Debaters who display constant background disagreement during an opponent’s speech will be rated as significantly less appropriate and less respectful than debaters who display moderate disagreement, and debaters who display moderate disagreement will be rated as significantly less appropriate and less respectful than debaters who display no disagreement. In addition to affecting impressions of a nonspeaking debater, it is also likely that background disagreement influences impressions of the speaking debater. To be sure, research suggests that, although one intended effect of background communication may be to create a negative impression of the opposing candidate, just the opposite may occur. Specifically, Seiter, Abraham, and Nakagama (1998) found that when a nonspeaking debater communicated constant background disagreement with his opponent, audience members gave the speaker high ratings on competence, character, sociability, and composure. Moreover, when a nonspeaking debater communicated moderate disagreement, the audience gave the speaker high ratings on sociability and composure. In short, this study suggests that speaking debaters tend to benefit from such background behaviors. On the other hand, this may not always be the case. Specifically, Seiter (2001) found that when moderate disbelief was displayed on the part of the nonspeaking debater, the speaker was perceived as more deceptive than when no background behavior was displayed. Thus, moderate disagreement on the part of a nonspeaking candidate can sometimes benefit and sometimes damage impressions of a speaking debater. Given this, the following hypothesis and research question are proposed: H2: When constant background disagreement is displayed by a nonspeaking opponent, the speaking debater will be rated as significantly more appropriate and more respectful than when moderate or no background disagreement is displayed. RQ1: Will a speaker who encounters moderate disagreement from his opponent receive different ratings of appropriateness and respectfulness than a speaker who encounters no background disagreement?

Authors: Seiter, John.
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background image
Background Behaviors: 5
H1: Debaters who display constant background disagreement during an opponent’s
speech will be rated as significantly less appropriate and less respectful than debaters who
display
moderate disagreement, and debaters who display moderate disagreement
will be rated as
significantly less appropriate and less
respectful than
debaters who display no
disagreement.
In addition to affecting impressions of a nonspeaking debater, it is also likely that
background disagreement influences impressions of the speaking debater. To be sure, research
suggests that, although one intended effect of background communication may be to create a
negative impression of the opposing candidate, just the opposite may occur. Specifically, Seiter,
Abraham, and Nakagama (1998) found that when a nonspeaking debater communicated constant
background disagreement with his opponent, audience members gave the speaker high ratings on
competence, character, sociability, and composure. Moreover, when a nonspeaking debater
communicated moderate disagreement, the audience gave the speaker high ratings on sociability
and composure. In short, this study suggests that speaking debaters tend to benefit from such
background behaviors.
On the other hand, this may not always be the case. Specifically, Seiter (2001) found that
when moderate disbelief was displayed on the part of the nonspeaking debater, the speaker was
perceived as more deceptive than when no background behavior was displayed. Thus, moderate
disagreement on the part of a nonspeaking candidate can sometimes benefit and sometimes
damage impressions of a speaking debater. Given this, the following hypothesis and research
question are proposed:
H2: When constant background disagreement is displayed by a nonspeaking
opponent, the speaking debater will be rated as significantly more appropriate and more
respectful than when moderate or no background disagreement is displayed.
RQ1: Will a speaker who encounters moderate disagreement from his opponent
receive different ratings of appropriateness and respectfulness than a speaker who
encounters no background disagreement?


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