Expressive control, expressive consistency, and the correspondence between expressive behavior and personality1


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    . This report is based on a doctoral dissertation submitted to Stanford University. Special thanks go to Dr. Daryl Bem for his constructive advice and counsel during all stages of the research. Thanks also to the members of my Ph.D. orals committee—Dr. Sandra Bem, Dr. Albert Hastorf, and Dr. Walter Mischel—for helping me to sharpen the conceptual and empirical focus of this research.

Requests for reprints should be sent to the author at the Department of Psychology, California State University at Fullerton, Fullerton, California 92634.


Does expressive behavior reflect personality? This paper proposes that expressive control is an important “moderating variable” affecting expressive behavior, expressive consistency, and the correspondence between expressive behavior and personality. To demonstrate this, a study was carried out in which 68 subjects were selected, according to a 2×2×2 factorial design, who were low and high on assessed extraversion, neuroticism, and self-monitoring (a measure of expressive control). Subjects were then videotaped as they role-played being teachers. A number of specific expressive behaviors were measured (subjects' stride length, graphic expansiveness, percent of forward eye-contact, and percent of time talking), and also groups of naive judges rated how “extraverted” and “anxious” subjects appeared.

The following results supported our hypothesis: (1) Self-monitoring was significantly related to subjects' expressive behaviors and judged personalities, while assessed extraversion and anxiety were not. (2) Expressive control was used to suppress the “accurate” display of anxiety but not extraversion. (3) Bodily expression was less controlled than facial or vocal expression. And (4), persons low and high on self-monitoring showed different patterns of cross-situational and cross-channel (face, body, voice) expressive consistency.