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Effects of Helper and Recipient Sex on the Experience and Outcomes of Comforting Messages: An Experimental Investigation
Unformatted Document Text:  Effects of Helper and Recipient Sex 13 Manipulations of Person Centeredness and Nonverbal Immediacy Over the course of three weeks, confederates received 25 hours of intensive training in how to express low, moderate, or high levels of VPC and NVI. With respect to the moderate conditions, past research indicates that most people are moderately immediate in their everyday interactions with others (Burgoon, Stern, & Dillman, 1995) and use simple expressions of condolences (“Gee, I’m sorry”) as the most frequent forms of comforting messages (Burleson 1994b). Therefore, confederates were told to act as they would in a typical interaction with a stranger and to use moderately person-centered messages in the form of expressions of condolence (e.g., “I’m sorry to hear that”) or questions to clarify the details of the distressing event (e.g., “How well did you know her before that happened?”). Confederates were also instructed to use statements that express mild interest and concern for the distressed discloser (e.g., “Geez, that sounds pretty bad”) and to acknowledge the situation of the distressed person with content-oriented remarks (e.g., “It’s too bad you broke up after being together for such a long time”). In the high conditions confederates were told to increase their verbal and nonverbal comforting expressions dramatically from what they would do in a typical interaction. In the high VPC conditions, confederates were trained to focus their verbal attention on the emotions expressed by the participants. For example, confederates were trained to use comforting statements that expressed empathy (e.g., “I understand. I feel so bad for you”), encouraged participants to talk about their feelings (e.g., “Man, how are you feeling right now?”), or expressed acceptance of the other’s feelings (e.g., “I don’t blame you for feeling that way”). In the high NVI conditions, confederates were instructed to express highly nonverbally immediate behavior through leaning forward or moving closer to the participant (but to avoid touch).

Authors: Jones, Susanne. and Burleson, Brant.
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Effects of Helper and Recipient Sex 13
Manipulations of Person Centeredness and Nonverbal Immediacy
Over the course of three weeks, confederates received 25 hours of intensive training in
how to express low, moderate, or high levels of VPC and NVI. With respect to the moderate
conditions, past research indicates that most people are moderately immediate in their everyday
interactions with others (Burgoon, Stern, & Dillman, 1995) and use simple expressions of
condolences (“Gee, I’m sorry”) as the most frequent forms of comforting messages (Burleson
1994b). Therefore, confederates were told to act as they would in a typical interaction with a
stranger and to use moderately person-centered messages in the form of expressions of
condolence (e.g., “I’m sorry to hear that”) or questions to clarify the details of the distressing
event (e.g., “How well did you know her before that happened?”). Confederates were also
instructed to use statements that express mild interest and concern for the distressed discloser
(e.g., “Geez, that sounds pretty bad”) and to acknowledge the situation of the distressed person
with content-oriented remarks (e.g., “It’s too bad you broke up after being together for such a
long time”).
In the high conditions confederates were told to increase their verbal and nonverbal
comforting expressions dramatically from what they would do in a typical interaction. In the
high VPC conditions, confederates were trained to focus their verbal attention on the emotions
expressed by the participants. For example, confederates were trained to use comforting
statements that expressed empathy (e.g., “I understand. I feel so bad for you”), encouraged
participants to talk about their feelings (e.g., “Man, how are you feeling right now?”), or
expressed acceptance of the other’s feelings (e.g., “I don’t blame you for feeling that way”). In
the high NVI conditions, confederates were instructed to express highly nonverbally immediate
behavior through leaning forward or moving closer to the participant (but to avoid touch).


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