Interruptions and nonverbal gender differences

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to examine gender differences in selected nonverbal behaviors associated with interruptions. Six graduate student groups involving 18 female and 17 male subjects were videotaped. The data for the study were 140 cross-sex interruption sequences and a matched, randomly selected sample of noninterruption sequences. A category system using self-related activity, gestures, body lean, facial expression and eye gaze was developed and used to code the data. There were no significant findings related to interruptions in the categories of self-related activity or gestures. Women leaned away from the group significantly more often than did men and when leaning away, women were more likely to be interrupted. Women were also more likely to be interrupted when smiling than were men, and women smiled significantly more when taking the speaking turn. Finally, women were interrupted significantly more often than men when they did not look at the turn-taker. The high educational status of the subjects was examined in the discussion of the findings.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.

References

  1. Argyle, M., Lalljec, M., & Cook, M. The effects of visibility on interaction in a dyad.Human Relations, 1968,21, 3–17.

    Google Scholar 

  2. Cegala, D.J., Alexander, A.F., & Sokuvitz, S. An investigation of eye gaze and its relation to selected verbal behavior.Human Communication Research, 1979,5, 99–107.

    Google Scholar 

  3. Duncan, S. Some signals and rules for taking speaking turns in conversation.Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 1972,23, 283–292.

    Google Scholar 

  4. Duncan, S. & Fiske, D.W.Face-to face interaction. New York, LEA Publishers, 1977.

    Google Scholar 

  5. Eakins, B.W. & Eakins, R.G.Sex differences in human communication. Boston, Houghton Mifflin Co., 1978.

    Google Scholar 

  6. Exline, R. Explorations in the process of person perception. Visual interaction in relation to competition, sex, and need for affiliation.Journal of Personality, 1963,13, 1–20.

    Google Scholar 

  7. Exline, R., Gray, D., & Schuette, D. Visual behavior in a dyad as affected by interview content and sex of respondent.Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 1965,1, 201–209.

    Google Scholar 

  8. Goss, B.Processing communication. Belmont, Ca, Wadsworth Publishing Co., 1982.

    Google Scholar 

  9. Harper, R.G., Wiens, A.N., & Matarrazzo, J.D.Nonverbal communication: The state of the Art. New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1978.

    Google Scholar 

  10. Henley, N.Body politics: Power, sex and nonverbal communication. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1977.

    Google Scholar 

  11. Henley, N. & Freeman, J. The sexual politics of interpersonal behavor. In J. Freeman (Ed.),Women: A feminist perspective. Palo Alto, Ca: Mayfield Publishing Co., 1975.

    Google Scholar 

  12. Ickes, W. & Branes, R. The role of sex and self-monitoring in unstructured dyadic interactions.Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 1977,35, 315–330.

    Google Scholar 

  13. Kennedy, C.W. & Camden, C.T. A new look at interruptions.Western Journal of Speech Communication, 1983,47, 45–58.

    Google Scholar 

  14. Kennedy, C.W. & Camden, C.T. Gender differences in interruption behavior: A dominance perspective.International Journal of Women's Studies, 1981,4, 18–25.

    Google Scholar 

  15. Mackey, W.C. Parameters of the smile as a social signal.The Journal of Genetic Psychology, 1976,129, 125–130.

    Google Scholar 

  16. Martin, J.N. & Craig, R.T. Selected linguistic sex differences during initial social interactions of same-sex and mixed-sex dyads.Western Journal of Speech Communication, 1983,47, 16–28.

    Google Scholar 

  17. Mehrabian, A. & Friar, J.T. Encoding of attitude by a scaled communicator via posture and position cues.Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 1969,33, 330–336.

    Google Scholar 

  18. Norton, R.W. & Pettegrew, L.S. Attentiveness as a style of communication: A structural analysis.Communication Monographs, 1979,46, 13–26.

    Google Scholar 

  19. Peterson, P. An investigation of sex differences in regard to nonverbal body gestures. In B. Eakins, G. Eakins, & B. Lieb-Brilhart (Eds.),Siscom '75: Women's (and men's) communication. Falls Church Va: SCA, 1976.

    Google Scholar 

  20. Putnam, L.L. & McCallister, L. Situational effects of task and gender on nonverbal display. Paper presented at the International Communication Association Convention, Acapulco, Mx, 1980.

  21. Rosenfeld, H.M. Approval-seeking and approval-inducing functions of verbal and nonverbal responses in the dyad.Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 1966,4, 597–605.

    Google Scholar 

  22. Rosenfeld, H.M. Conversational control functions of nonverbal behavior. In A. Seigman & S. Feldstein (Eds.),Nonverbal behavior and communication. New York: Halstad Press, 1977.

    Google Scholar 

  23. Smith, V.M. & Bass, T.A.Communication for health professionals. Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott Co., 1979.

    Google Scholar 

  24. Zimmerman, D. & West, C. Sex roles, interruptions and silences in conversation. In Thorne, B. & Henley, N. (Eds.),Language and sex: Difference and dominance, Rowley, Ma: Newbury House, 1975.

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Carl Camden.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Kennedy, C.W., Camden, C. Interruptions and nonverbal gender differences. J Nonverbal Behav 8, 91–108 (1983). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00986997

Download citation

Keywords

  • Gender Difference
  • Category System
  • Social Psychology
  • Facial Expression
  • Graduate Student