Usefulness of differentiating arousal responses within communication theories: Orienting response or defensive arousal within nonverbal theories of expectancy violation

Beth A. Le Poire, Judee K. Burgoon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations

Abstract

Arousal has become a central variable within much of communication research from deception to emotional communication. Specifically, several communication theories attempting to explain how one interactant's unexpected involvement changes affect another's posit arousal as a central variable directly or indirectly influencing the behavioral changes. Similar to these theories, which place emphasis on expectancies (anticipatory sets concerning typical interaction behaviors), psychophysiology literature posits that neuronal models (similar to expectancies) exist for consistently presented patterns and that mismatched stimuli cause an orienting response. This two-part study explores the applicability of the "orienting response" to these interpersonal communication theories explaining violations of expectancies. In study one, four levels of involvement changes (very high, high, low, and very low) were manipulated to examine the physiological manifestation of arousal through heart rate, skin temperature, and pulse volume changes - measured every 5 seconds. All involvement changes were followed by arousal changes in the opposite directions of orienting responses - increases in heart rate, skin temperature, and pulse volume. Because the physiological measurement may have been too tonic, a second study was completed. In study two, the two levels of involvement that were the most arousing (very high and very low) were manipulated, and heart rate, skin temperature, and pulse volume were measured every .5 seconds. The results of the second investigation indicate that the orientation response did manifest itself in significant decreases in heart rate and increases followed by decreases in pulse volume.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)208-230
Number of pages23
JournalCommunication Monographs
Volume63
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 1996
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication
  • Language and Linguistics

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