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Attaining Status at the Expense of Likeability: Pilfering Power Through Conversational Interruption

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Abstract

Do status expectations affect how we interpret interruption in conversation? Two experiments examined how interrupters and their targets are perceived in same- and mixed-gender dyads. In Experiment 1, participants listened to a brief audiotaped conversation in which one person interrupted the other five times. In Experiment 2, four confederates (two men and two women) systematically interrupted naïve participants while discussing an article. In general, interrupters gained in status and targets of interruption lost status. In addition, participants who were interrupted rated themselves as less influential than those who were not interrupted. As expected, interrupters, especially female interrupters, were liked less than those who did not interrupt. Theoretical implications are discussed.

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Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Sally D. Farley.

Additional information

This paper is based upon my doctoral dissertation, which was conducted at Virginia Commonwealth University. I would like to thank Mark Stasson, Amie Ashcraft, Susan Hughes and Jon Farley for critiquing versions of this manuscript.

Appendix

Appendix

Dependent Measures from Both Experiments

Please read the following scales carefully, and use them to describe your opinion about the first person on the tape.

Rude

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

Polited

r

Agreeable

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

Argumentativeb

 

Passive

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

Assertiveb

 

Caring

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

Indifferentd

 

Irrational

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

Rational b

 

Strong

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

Weak b

r

Pleasant

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

Irritabled

 

Submissive

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

Dominantb

 

Cooperative

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

Competitiveb

 

Overbearing

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

Understandingb

r

Concerned

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

Concernedd

 

With other

       

With self

 

Now please read the following statements carefully and indicate the extent to which you agree with them using the following numbers:

1 = Strongly Disagree

2 = Mildly Disagree

3 = Neither Agree nor Disagree

4 = Mildly Agree

5 = Strongly Agree

__1. Jane would perform well at tasks in general.a

 

__2. Jane was an influential member of this group.c

 

__3. Jane was a likable member of this group.e

r

__4. Jane was intelligent.a

 

__5. Other group members encouraged Jane to participate.c

 

__6. I tended to agree with Jane.c

 

__7. Jane made strong arguments.a

 

__8. Jane had good leadership ability.a

 

__9. Jane was not easily influenced by others.c

 

__10. Jane is a capable person.a

 

__11. Jane has positive qualities.e

 

__12. I would select Jane as a group member if I were working on a similar task.e

 

__13. Jane contributed a lot to the discussion.c

 

__14. Jane is friendly.e

r

  1. Note: a Competence, Dominance, Influence, d Disrespect, eLiking, Italicized items were omitted to increase the reliability of the scales. r = items were reverse scored. Participants in Experiment 2 completed self-ratings of competence and influence, i.e., “I perform well at tasks in general”

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Farley, S.D. Attaining Status at the Expense of Likeability: Pilfering Power Through Conversational Interruption. J Nonverbal Behav 32, 241–260 (2008). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10919-008-0054-x

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10919-008-0054-x

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