Stages of Relationships and Nonverbal Communication

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Written By: Kathryn Uptergrove

For this assignment, I have chosen an article that was published in the Texas Speech Communication Journal in 2010.  The article titled, “The Difference in Nonverbal Behaviors and How It Changes In Different Stages of A Relationship”, uses research from 145 college students to better understand how nonverbal communication progresses as relationships become more serious.  There are five levels of the relationship where behaviors were examined.  These levels include casual dating, exclusive dating, long-term relationship, co-habitation while in a long term relationship and lastly, marriage.  Researchers used a questionnaire to measure nonverbal perceptions and affectionate communication within their current relationship stage.  The results concluded that there is a great difference in nonverbal communication between genders and that affectionate nonverbal communication increased as the relationships became more serious.  For example, the study found that individuals in a casual dating relationships felt that nonverbal behaviors were not as important as those in the co-habitation stage.  Another result of the study implied that men believe that nonverbal communication must increase in order for the relationship to be successful. 

After reading the article, I found similarities between the course text and the behavior study conducted for the research.  The studies showed an increase in affectionate nonverbal behaviors as the relationships progressed from casual dating to marriage.  The key similarity between the article and the course text was the differences between genders in regards to touch.  As the couples were surveyed, the results concluded that women tend to be more affectionate in touch in the more serious relationship stages, meaning that there were increased in the engagement and marriage stage.  The course text states, “married women rated touch as more affectionate than unmarried women” supporting the articles claim.  The textbook also notes that women are more likely to “initiate touch in marriage” whereas men tend to initiate touch in the beginning stages of a relationship. 

While I do agree with the finding of the research concluded in the article, I believe that it could have used a broader group of participants.  I would like to see a survey that is not directed solely at college students.  I think a group of individuals that are at different stages of their life would create a well-rounded sample group.  Another addition that I would make to the survey would be to include both homosexual and heterosexual relationships to study the interactions between same sex couples and how nonverbal behavior differs between relationship levels.  Finally, I would have liked to see more observation in the research.  While this research was done completely by survey, I strongly believe that will brief observation of couples researchers would be able to see first-hand the nonverbal communication and can extend the research to include kinesics, vocalics, and proxemics over time. This could be done by examining a set of couples of the course of their relationship.  While this would be difficult to achieve, due to the length of time required and the possibility that not all of the couples would make it to marriage, it would give researchers a more exact timeline as to when increased nonverbal behaviors occur.

Citations:

Burgoon, J. K., Guerrero, L. K., & Floyd, K. (2010). Nonverbal Communication. New York, New York: Pearson Education, Inc.

Prinsen, T., & Punyanunt-Carter, N. M. (2009). The Difference in Nonverbal Behaviors and How It Changes In Different Stages of a Relationship. Texas Speech Communication Journal , 34, 1-7.

Van Edwards, V. (2013, September 23). The Body Language of Attraction. Retrieved October 3, 2013, from Huff Post Women: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/vanessa-van-edwards/the-body-language-of-attraction_b_3673055.html

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