This is the fourth article in my series on Non Verbal Messages in Cross-Cultural Communication. This article on the Nonverbal Expectancy Violations Theory reveals the five propositions that relate to the five assumptions I have already explained in a previous article.
Now that we have covered the five assumptions of the Nonverbal Expectancy Violations Theory lets take look at the five propositions to further our understanding of this concept.
The first proposition of the Nonverbal Expectancy Violations Theory is “expectancy violations are arousing and distracting, diverting attention to communicator and/or relationship characteristics and behaviors” (Burgoon, 1992). When a person recognizes consciously or subconsciously that a non verbal message is out of their range of normal they can become distracted and will have difficulty interpreting the intention of the stranger with whom they are communicating.
The second proposition of the Nonverbal Expectancy Violations Theory is “communicator reward valence [moderates] the interpretation of ambiguous or multi-meaning nonverbal behaviors” (Burgoon, 1992). The third proposition of the Nonverbal Expectancy Violations Theory is “communicator reward valence [moderates] the evaluation of nonverbal behavior” (Burgoon, 1992). Once we begin to react negatively to the strangers non verbal messages our anxiety level is raised. When one begins to become anxious we subconsciously initiate a cost benefits analysis which determines our willingness to continue or terminate the interaction.
The final proposition of the Nonverbal Expectancy Violations Theory is “positive violations produce favorable communication outcomes, while negative violations produce negative consequences” (Burgoon, 1992). When recognizing the differences in non verbal messages when we communicate cross culturally with strangers the outcome will depend on our overall negativity or positivistic interpretation. The stranger may have good intentions but if we perceive them to be negative the most likely outcome of that interaction will be negative. However, I think the same cannot be said about a strange with bad intentions. When communicating cross culturally we may misinterpret the stranger to have good intentions, when in reality they do not. Such as trusting someone you should not, which may result in being robbed, mislead or overcharged.
Communicating cross culturally with strangers is no simple task. Many factors both conscious subconscious are at work. While the above examples deal mainly with primary intercultural interactions with initial meetings, in our work as teachers of people from other countries our interactions are much deeper and more complex. These complex interactions require that we give our students the benefit of the doubt in order to increase the likeliness of a positive outcome. Additionally, it behooves us to do our research on the cultures which we will be interacting with.
While this research on the body language and non verbal messages of other cultures may have been previously difficult to do, the internet now makes this easy for us. Armed with this knowledge we can create a better relationship with our students and create a better classroom environment in which our students can achieve their highest potential.
*If you enjoyed this informative article on the Nonverbal Expectancy Violations Theory, please view my other articles in this series by clicking my name “Tesl Goddess” .
Burgoon, J. K. (1992). Applying a comparative approach to nonverbal expectancy violations theory. In J. Blumler, K. E. Rosengren, & J. M. McLeod (Eds.), Comparatively speaking: Communication and culture across space and time (pp. 53-69). Beverly Hills, CA: Sage.