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Advances in Intergroup Communication

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Howard Giles and Anne Maass

Advances in Intergroup Communication is a timely contribution to the field. It reflects developments in older, more established intergroup settings (e.g., gender, sexual orientation, organizations) whilst introducing newer studies such as the military and political parties. It also pays attention to emerging trends in new media and social networks and considers the developing field of neuroscience of communication.
The volume brings together authors from different geographical areas (North America, Europe, and Australia) and from different disciplines (particularly communication, linguistics, and psychology). Contributions are organized around five themes, corresponding to the five sections of the book: defining features and constraints; tools of intergroup communication; social groups in their context; intergroup communication in organizations; and future directions.
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Chapter Nine: Nonverbal Behavior and Intergroup Communication

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← 136 | 137 →CHAPTER NINE

Nonverbal Behavior and Intergroup Communication

LUIGI CASTELLI AND GIOVANNI GALFANO

Our daily life is constantly populated by encounters with members of other groups in which the respective social identities of the persons involved set the stage. Verbal contents may (or may not) be transmitted during the interaction, but nonverbal communication, nonetheless, represents a virtually unavoidable ingredient of social exchanges. The interpretation of nonverbal signals may also lead to highly relevant consequences. Imagine the case of a police officer who is facing a suspect and should rapidly decide whether to shoot or not. Even minimal behaviors, such as moving a hand toward the pocket, can be interpreted as either a cooperative (e.g., taking one’s identity card) or hostile (e.g., extracting a gun) behavior. Which interpretation prevails is also strongly dependent on the group membership of the persons involved. For instance, White individuals appear to more likely interpret the behavior as being hostile if displayed by a Black rather than a White target, and to more likely shoot the former than the latter target (Correll, Park, Judd, & Wittenbrink, 2002). In sum, from minimal nonverbal behaviors dramatic consequences may arise.

Overall, nonverbal communication may take various forms: from complex behavioral patterns to more subtle facial expressions, gestures, bodily and gaze movements, which can either be performed in a deliberate or more spontaneous fashion (Ambady & Rosenthal, 1998). In addition, paralinguistic components, such as prosody, pitch, volume, intonation or accent, enrich...

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