THE EFFECTS OF OBSERVER EXPECTATIONS, TASK AMBIGUITY, AND MEDIUM OF PRESENTATION ON LOW- AND HIGH-INFERENCE JUDGMENTS OF COMMUNICATIVE BEHAVIOR1

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Abstract

This study investigated the effects of observer expectations about a speaker's nonfluency level on nonfluency counts made during a taped speech and on post-performance evaluations of nonfluency, anxiety, central idea, organization, language, delivery, and general effectiveness. The influence of task ambiguity and medium of presentation on expectancy effects was also explored. Results indicate: (a) in a high-ambiguity condition, observers who expected a fluent speaker counted fewer nonfluencies in his speech than observers who expected a nonfluent speaker; (b) fluent-expectation observers rated the speaker more positively on the seven evaluative measures; (c) low task ambiguity eliminated expectancy effects on nonfluency counts and ratings of organization but not on the other six evaluative measures; and (d) auditory and auditory-visual presentations of the speech did not produce significant differences.

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