Title

Impression Management in Televised Debates: The Effect of Background Nonverbal Behavior on Audience Perceptions of Debaters’ Likeability

Document Type

Article

Journal/Book Title/Conference

Communication Research reports

Volume

26

Issue

1

Publisher

Taylor&Francis Online

Publication Date

1-30-2009

First Page

1

Last Page

11

DOI

10.1080/08824090802636959

Abstract

This study examined whether a debater's background nonverbal behavior affected audience perceptions of her and her opponent's likeability. Students watched one of four versions of a televised debate. In each, while the speaking debater appeared on the main screen, subscreens displayed her opponent's background nonverbal behavior. In one version, the nonspeaking debater displayed a neutral expression, whereas in the others she displayed occasional disagreement, nearly constant disagreement, or both agreement and disagreement. After viewing the debates, students rated the debaters' likeability. Analysis indicated that background behavior influenced perceptions of the nonverbal communicator but not of the speaking debater.

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