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Audience Perceptions of Background Nonverbal Behaviors Displayed by Candidates in Televised Political Debates
Unformatted Document Text:  Background Behaviors: 9 .01, eta 2 = .06). Specifically, when the nonspeaking debater indicated constant disagreement, the speaking debater was perceived as significantly more appropriate than he was in all the other conditions. Second, results indicated that the nonspeaking debater’s behavior was significantly associated with perceptions of the speaking debater’s respectfulness (F 3, 175 = 4.02, p < .01, eta 2 = .06). Specifically, when the nonspeaking debater indicated constant disagreement, the speaking debater was perceived as significantly more respectful than he was in all the other conditions. Discussion This study examined audience members’ perceptions of speaking and nonspeaking debaters’ respectfulness and appropriateness as a function of the nonspeaking debater’s background communication. The first hypothesis focused on the ways in which displays of background disagreement affected ratings of the nonverbal communicator. Results indicated that when the background debater displayed constant disagreement during his opponent’s speech, his appropriateness and respectfulness ratings were significantly lower than when he displayed moderate or no disagreement. Moreover, these ratings were significantly lower when he displayed moderate disagreement than when he displayed no disagreement. These results support this study’s first hypothesis, suggesting that any display of background disagreement during an opponent’s speech negatively affects perceptions of the nonverbal communicator’s appropriateness and respectfulness. These findings are consistent with previous literature suggesting that the violation of turn-taking rules (i.e., verbal interruptions) are associated with negative evaluations of the violator (Bennett, 1981; Chambliss & Feeny, 1992; LaFrance, 1992; Place & Becker, 1991; Robinson & Reis, 1989), and that background behavior by a nonspeaking debater is associated with low ratings of competence, character, composure, sociability and honesty for that debater (Seiter, 1999, 2001). This study’s second hypothesis focused on the role of constant background disagreement on ratings of the speaker’s respectfulness and appropriateness. As expected, when the debater in the background displayed constant disagreement with the speaker, the speaker was rated as more

Authors: Seiter, John.
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background image
Background Behaviors: 9
.01, eta
2
= .06). Specifically, when the nonspeaking debater indicated constant disagreement, the
speaking debater was perceived as significantly more appropriate than he was in all the other
conditions.
Second, results indicated that the nonspeaking debater’s behavior was significantly
associated with perceptions of the speaking debater’s respectfulness (F
3, 175
= 4.02, p < .01, eta
2
=
.06). Specifically, when the nonspeaking debater indicated constant disagreement, the speaking
debater was perceived as significantly more respectful than he was in all the other conditions.
Discussion
This study examined audience members’ perceptions of speaking and nonspeaking
debaters’ respectfulness and appropriateness as a function of the nonspeaking debater’s
background communication. The first hypothesis focused on the ways in which displays of
background disagreement affected ratings of the nonverbal communicator. Results indicated that
when the background debater displayed constant disagreement during his opponent’s speech, his
appropriateness and respectfulness ratings were significantly lower than when he displayed
moderate or no disagreement. Moreover, these ratings were significantly lower when he
displayed moderate disagreement than when he displayed no disagreement. These results support
this study’s first hypothesis, suggesting that any display of background disagreement during an
opponent’s speech negatively affects perceptions of the nonverbal communicator’s
appropriateness and respectfulness. These findings are consistent with previous literature
suggesting that the violation of turn-taking rules (i.e., verbal interruptions) are associated with
negative evaluations of the violator (Bennett, 1981; Chambliss & Feeny, 1992; LaFrance, 1992;
Place & Becker, 1991; Robinson & Reis, 1989), and that background behavior by a nonspeaking
debater is associated with low ratings of competence, character, composure, sociability and
honesty for that debater (Seiter, 1999, 2001).
This study’s second hypothesis focused on the role of constant background disagreement
on ratings of the speaker’s respectfulness and appropriateness. As expected, when the debater in
the background displayed constant disagreement with the speaker, the speaker was rated as more


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