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Observing «and» Analyzing Communication Behavior

John A. Courtright

This is a book about communication behavior: how we conceptualize it, observe it, measure it, and analyze it.
The 1970s and 1980s were times when communication behavior was a primary interest of many communication scholars. The aim of this book is to reignite some interest in and passion about how human communication behavior should be studied. It presents the best advice, techniques, cautions, and controversies from the 1970s and 1980s and then updates them. Several chapters also introduce statistical methods and procedures to allow readers to analyze behavioral data.
This book is a useful resource for communication scholars and graduate students to guide their study of communication behavior.
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9 Classic Analytic Procedures

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Chapter 9

Classic Analytic Procedures

As previous chapters have no doubt indicated, the observation and analysis of communication behavior has been ongoing for almost seven decades. Although new technologies and analytic procedures have emerged during that time, others have been available and in use almost from the beginning (see Miller & Frick, 1949). Markov chain analysis was the first of these, having first been introduced in 1907 by A. A. Markov. That procedure was followed by lag sequential analysis, although the time between the two was over 70 years.

Although these two procedures differ in some fundamental ways, they share a common goal; namely, to identify patterns or redundant sequences of communication behavior that occur within an ongoing stream of interaction. They do this by determining the likelihood or probability that certain behaviors (as identified by the coding scheme) are more or less likely to be antecedent or subsequent to other behaviors. When those probabilities are relatively large or very small, they suggest the presence (or absence) of a sequence of communication behaviors that is indicative of a pattern. The investigator can then use his or her guiding theory to interpret and make sense of that pattern. As Watzlawick, Beavin, and Jackson (1967, p. 36) assert, “Where there is pattern there is significance—this epistemological maxim also holds for the study of human interaction.” Keep in mind, however, that everything except that theoretical interpretation is methodology; essential to know, but not...

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