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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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14 Reversing the Sides of the = Sign

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Chapter 14

Reversing the Sides of the = Sign

The last several chapters of this book that focused on data analysis have been guided by an implicit assumption that is about to be made explicit and then turned around. That assumption has been that the behaviors obtained through reliable observation will be used as (choose your terminology) the criterion measure, the outcome measure, or the dependent variable. Stated differently, the underlying assumption was that communication behavior—or more accurately the variance of those behaviors—is the phenomenon we wish to predict and explain.

To review ever so briefly, all of the analytic approaches that have been presented and discussed—from Markov chain analysis, to log-linear analysis, to GSK approach, to the generalized linear models—all assumed, metaphorically speaking, that communication behavior was on the left-hand side of the equal sign. Of course, several of those approaches (e.g., Markov, lag) had no actual equal sign, but that is beside the point. People vary in the communication behavior they emit, and that variance is precisely what we were trying to model and explain.

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