The Effects of Vocalics and Nonverbal Sensitivity on Compliance A Speech Accommodation Theory Explanation

Authors

  • DAVID B. BULLER,

    1. David B. Butter (Ph.D., Michigan State University, 1984) is an assistant professor of communication at the University of Arizona.
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  • R. KELLY AUNE

    1. R. Kelly Aune (M.A., Sangamon State University, 1984) is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Communication at the University of Arizona.
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Abstract

A speech accommodation theory explanation for the interaction between a receiver's decoding ability and a speaker's voice tone on compliance with requests for help was tested. It was predicted that good decoders would speak faster than poor decoders. Speech accommodation theory predicts that given this speech style difference, good decoders would make more favorable interpretations of a fast request that converged toward their faster speech rate; whereas poor decoders would make more favorable interpretations of a slow request that converged toward their slower speech rate. Requests receiving more favorable evaluations should result in greater compliance, because compliance with requests for help was predicted to follow an identification process. An experiment involving 168 participants confirmed this explanation. Good decoders spoke faster than poor decoders. Moreover, good decoders rated the fast request as more intimate and immediate, while poor decoders rated the slow request as more intimate and immediate. Good decoders, in turn, complied more with the fast request, which they rated more intimate and immediate, whereas poor decoders complied more with the slow request, which they rated more intimate and immediate.

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