Nonverbal communication of aggression

Pliner, Patricia, Lester Krames, and Thomas Alloway, editors. Nonverbal communication of aggression: proceedings of the fourth annual Symposium on Communication and Affect held at Erindale College, University of Toronto, March 28-30, 1974. Symposium on Communication and Affect (1974, Erindale College). Advances in the Study of Communication and Affect, v. 2. New York: Plenum Press, c1975.
Pliner, Patricia (ed) 1975. Nonverbal Communication of Aggression (Advances in the Study of Communication and Affect, Vol. 2). New York : Plenum Press

Sarles, Harvey 1975. "Language and Communication-II: The View from '74". In: . pp. 1-19.
THe field of human ethology has gained a literature, if not exactly a substance. In fact, there may be two fields splitting and emerging - one which is essentially psychological-individual, the other more anthropological-social - as they tend to approach the same apparent subject matter from two quite different perspectives. (Sarles 1975: 2)
Teachers seem to get a great deal of their feedback about what's going on in their students' heads from watching their faces. Teachers must make rapid judgements about whether a point is understood, and by whom. Their data are primarily facial expressions. So a student who either looks stupid in some static overarching sense, or whose look is interpreted as confused or stupid, will have some effect on the conduct of any class. Depending on the teacher, his or her mood, patience, etc., that stupid-looking student may get a lot more teaching energy - or more likely, apparently, he will begin to be treated differently from the bright-looking students. (Sarles 1975: 11)
Exline, Ralph V., Ellyson, Steve L., Long, Barbara 1975. "Visual Behavior as an Aspect of Power Role Relationships". In: . pp. 21-52.
This book is concerned with the nonverbal communication of aggression, and our discussion will focus on the darker side of eye engagements, though we will deal more with power and control than with aggression pwr se. Power, control, aggression - the concepts are closely linked, for how often is one who gives little indication of interest in influencing or controlling the actions of others likely to be described ad infringing or encroaching on another's rights or territory? (Exline, Ellyson & Long 1975: 22)
To say that the eye "takes" is to say that we use our eyes to obtain information about the other. This information is useful either in gauging his reaction to our speech and/or behavior, or in using his nonverbal behavior to better understand or to evaluate the validity of the message he provides us in words. Thus one function of looking is to obtain information from and about the speaker which cannot be derived from his words alone. Such information would seem to be relevant to our personal concerns of communication or comprehension. (Exline, Ellyson & Long 1975: 24)
The second factor, i.e. the "norm of attention," is operative in both speaking and listening roles, for convention of courtesy would seem to require that both the speaker and listener give evidence of "paying attention" to the other. Looking at another is a conventional way of indicating such attention. (Exline, Ellyson & Long 1975: 30)
Ellsworth, Phoebe C. 1975. "Direct Gaze as a Social Stimulus: The Example of Aggression". In: . pp. 53-75.
Some nonverbal behaviors may have reliable diagnostic significance for psychologists, although here the evidence is much less clear. Finally, there remain a great many nonverbal behaviors which do not have an invariant significance, but which may nonetheless be influential stimuli in social interactions. The "meaning" of these behaviors changes from one situation to another and from one interpersonal relationship to another. (Ellsworth 1975: 54)
Most studies that have dealt with the meaning of nonverbal behavior in social interaction have concentrated on the meanings inferred by an observer of the behavior. Similarly, in this discussion, the "meaning" which changes when the same cue occurs in different contexts refers to the observer's reaction to the cue and his interpretation of it, since as yet we have very little information about other types of social meaning. (Ellsworth 1975: 55)
Taken together, these studies provide fairly strong support for the proposition that the meaning of a look is not intrinsic to the look but derives in large meaning from the context. Thus a stare is not just a threatening signal that triggers flight, and a downcast gaze is much more complicated than a simple appeasement gesture. However, this flexibility of interpretation across contexts does not imply that visual behaviors are unimportant social stimuli. On the contrary, within each social context studied, the direct gaze had powerful and fairly consistent effects, effects which differed from those of gaze aversion. It was, as we have argued, a salient, arousing, and involving stimulus, a stimulus which demanded a response. If no appropriate response could be found, the person who was gazed at tried to escape from the demand by fleeing from the situation. (Ellsworth 1975: 69)
Between the face and the atmosphere of the situation lies a huge range of factors - posture, status relationships, degree of acquaitance, purpose, setting and formality of interaction, cultural factors, and so on, and so on. Few of these have received much empirical attention in relation to visual behavior, with the exception of Birdwhistell's observations of subcultural differences (1970), explorations of status relationships by Mehrabian (1969) and Exline (this volume), and Rubin's research on romance (1970). (Ellsworth 1975: 70)
Izard, Carroll E. 1975. "Patterns of Emotions and Emotion Communication in "Hostility" and Aggression". In:. pp. 77-101.
It is no accident that we speak of the "heat of anger"; the flushed face of the angry individual feels and looks hot. Aggression that occurs in anger is more likely to be direct result of relatively intense emotion in an individual whose enegry has been highly mobilized. On the contrary, contempt can be considered the "cool" emotion in the "hostility" triad. It seems reasonable that it is the contempt situation in which the "cold-blooded" aggressor operates, since contempt is a distancing and devaluing emotion. This description also has validity in the language of common usage, as indicated by such phrases as "murder in cold blood," or "cold-blooded killer." (Izard 1975: 84)
Menzen, E. W. Jr. 1975. "Communication and Aggression in a Group of Young Chimpanzees". In: . pp. 103-133.
Biologically speaking, thee is just as much competition within a goup as between strangers, but the rules become more subtle and shared by all, and they are less apt to entail bloodshed and useless expenditure of energy. In other words, societies (almost by definition) develop conventionalized forms of competition over resources (Wynne-Edwards, 1962). The conventions provide relatively orderly and efficient (cooperative?) means of determining who will get what, and when. (Menzen 1975: 119)
Miller, Robert E. 1975. "Nonverbal Expressions of Aggression and Submission in Social Groups of Primates". In: . pp. 135-160.
A feature of most primate groupings is a social dominance hierarchy. While the behavioral expression and the degree of control exerted by the most dominant animal shows considerable variability from species to species, close observation reveals that some individuals are accorded unusual respect by the other members of the group and that they often control movements of the troop during the foraging expedition, limit the aggressive activities within the group, and coordinate defense of the troop against predators or intrusions by other groups of the same species. The most dominant animal is generally an adult male, or, in some cases, a group of two or three adult males who cooperate and share the leadership position. It is clear from many studies and in many species of animals from the rat to primates the male hormone, testosterone, is a factor influencing aggressive behavior. (Miller 1975: 138)
We have suggested that the complete lack of nonverbal fluency in isolates is a most important factor in their inadequacy and distorted social behavior and, further, that social experiences during the first year of life are required for the monkey to acquire the essentials of nonverbal behavior. (Miller 1975: 50)
These psychoactive drugs, which altered the course and nature of group social interactions, also changed the transmission and reception of nonverbal cues in the cooperative conditioning task, lending support to the notion that effective nonverbal behavior is the sine qua non of successful group interactions. (Miller 1975: 150)
The young child must learn to be instructed by his elders to control aggression and to express assertiveness in socially acceptable ways. Inherent in this view is that the child must recognize and respond appropriately to those subtle, expressive cues that reveal hostility and rising anger in associates so that his own behavior can be modified to avert an outbreak of violence. (Miller 1975: 155)
One might anticipate that the study of nonverbal fluency in man may similarly reveal that aggression is importantly related with the failure of subjects to perceive and interpret subtle expressions of irritation and annoyance in others so that behavior can be modulated in time to prevent an escalation to anger. It would be particularly interesting to study the developmental course of the sending and receiving of nonverbal expressions so that one could relate early social experience with subsequent nonverbal performances. Since aggressive behavior almost invariantly is accompanied by highly visible nonverbal as well as verbal responses, the study of the gradations of expressions that culminate in overt hostility would seem to be important for the understanding of human aggression. (Miller 1975: 157)
Ginsburg, Benson E. 1975. "Nonverbal Communication: The Effects of Affect on Individual and Group Behavior". In: . pp. 161-173.
For us as verbal beings, there is a premium on communication by spoken language. However, at the level of affect, the verbalizations are redundant. If I have never felt whatever it is that you feel, your words will not communicate your feelings to me in the same sense that they would had I experienced them. Even if I have shared in the emotions you are expressing verbally, I must still judge whether you feel them and mean them or whether you are dissembling, and I will use other and often nonverbal cues in order to make this decision. One may say that he or she loves another, but the truth of this statement will be judged by a multitude of other cues: a glance, a smile, a touch, and certain consistencies of behavior over time. (Ginsburg 1975: 162)
The association of the signal with the mood or affect and, in turn, with the appropriate act, is established by experience in these contexts, whether the eye of the beholder belongs to a human investigator or to a conspecific. We have, for example, reared a female cub in complete visual isolation from the age of 3 weeks to 10 months. When she was first introduced to other wolves, she did not recognize their threats, greetings, or dominance posture and reacter inappopriately. Her own vocalizations and body postures contained a suitable repertoire of wolf behavior, but she did not use these in appropriate combinations or contexts and was thus not "understood" by other wolves. By being forced to interact with them under restraint from the time she emerged from isolation, she managed to put her communication system in place in 4 or 5 days. She had the genetic potential, but this way, by itself, no sufficient to insure that she would be able either to communicate or to understand. (Ginsburg 1975: 164)
Ratner, Stanley R. 1975. "Animal's Defenses: Fighting in Predator-Prey Relations". In: 175-190.
Notice that mimicries only sometimes involve postures and movements when the prey takes a posture to look like something else. Thus, only in some cases does this defense involve a signal to the predator. (Ratner 1975: 181)


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