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The effects of interruption, gender, and status on interpersonal perceptions

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This study examined: (1) how violations in turn-taking, ie., interruption, are perceived, (2) whether attributions toward an interrupter vary according to gender and status, and (3) how individuals who adopt cross-sex interruptive styles are seen. Subjects listened to a four-minute audiotape of a conversation and rated conversants on masculinity, femininity, competence, sociability, attractiveness, and traditionality. Sex of interrupter, style of interruption (statement, question, no interruption), and status were varied. Results suggest that interruption leads to negative personality attributions. Interrupters were seen as less sociable and more assertive than individuals who did not interrupt. They were also perceived as more masculine and less feminine than those who did not interrupt. Few sex differences emerged, indicating that women who interrupt are not penalized relative to men.

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We would like to thank Emory Cowen for his helpful comments and suggestions on earlier version of this article. We extend special thanks to Anne Bogat for her assistance and support at Michigan State University, and to Sharon Benson, Erica Colwell, Scott Fischer, Maureen Goldman, Jason Korosec, Michael Lynch and Ann Skoczenski for their assistance and patience in the development of the materials.

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Robinson, L.F., Reis, H.T. The effects of interruption, gender, and status on interpersonal perceptions. J Nonverbal Behav 13, 141–153 (1989).

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