Speech Evaluation Differences as a Function of Perspective (Participant Versus Observer) and Presentational Medium



    1. Richard L. Street, Jr. (Ph.D., University of Texas, 1980) is an associate professor of speech communication at Texas Tech University, Lubbock, TX.
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    1. Anthony Mulac (Ph.D., University of Michigan, 1969) is a professor of communication at the University of California, Santa Barbara, CA.
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    1. John M. IViemann (Ph.D., Purdue University, 1975) is an associate professor of communication at the University of California, Santa Barbara, CA. This article was presented at the annual meeting of the International Communication Association, Montreal, May 1987. We would like to thank Charles Berger, and two anonymous reviewers for their comments on earlier versions of this article.
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Using 40 naturally occurring conversations (20 same sex and 20 mixed sex), the purpose of this study was to examine differences among speech behavior-social evaluation relationships as a function of whether the evaluator's perspective was that of a participant or an observer and, if the latter, whether the presentational medium involved an audiovisual, audio-only, or transcriptual recording. Speech behaviors examined included conversants’ speech rates, turn durations, interruptive speakovers, and vocal back-channels and the degree to which they performed these speech behaviors similar to those of their partners. Social evaluative dimensions examined included communication satisfaction, communicative competence, sociointellectual status, aesthetic quality, and dynamism. Several findings were noteworthy. First, participants viewed their conversational partners most favorably and transcript readers viewed them least favorably. Second, there were few significant correlations between social evaluative judgments across different perceivers’ perspectives. Third, while the perceivers’ social judgments of conversants were often related to the conversants’ speech behaviors, there was little consistency across perceivers’ perspectives regarding which speech behaviors were predictive of these judgments. Specifically, the relationships between audiovisual observers’ and transcript readers’ evaluations of conversants and the conversants’ speech behaviors frequently differed from relationships between participants’ evaluations of partners and the partners’ speech behaviors.