Advances in Communication Research

PealkiriAdvances in communication research / Niles Rumely Newton, Michael Newton, Charles R. Tittle ... [et al.] ; edited by C. David Mortensen, Kenneth K. Sereno
IlmunudNew York [etc.] : Harper & Row, c1973
ViideMortensen, David C. and Kenneth K. Sereno (eds.) 1973. Advances in communication research. New York: Harper & Row.

Well, I withdrew over 30 books from UTLIB's repository for this summers reading and there were bound to be some bad apples among them. This is the first truly bad one. The title reads "Advances in Communication Research", but it hits off with introduction by Martin Fishbein, closely followed by articles by Icek Ajzen (these guys). The title should actually read "Advances in Attitude Research". Part 1: Attitudes and Behavior; Part 2: Counterattitudinal Advocacy; Part 3: Perception and Communiation; Part 4: Nonverbal Communication; Part 5: Communication and Social Class. The first three parts have very little if at all to do with communication. Part 4 contains four articles by Albert Mehrabian, who's as "meh" as always: if you've read one of his articles, you've read them all. Part 5 is the "various" section which in my opinion models what this book was supposed to be. I ended up reading the first two Mehrabian articles and accepting the fact that this is bollocks.
What really pisses me off is that the editors, on the back cover, only mention the names of Part 4, Part 3, and Part 5 (in that order), describing the book as "...the first [their italics] book to approach communication as an area of social inquiry" and that it "...involves the student in a serious exploration of the underlying nature of the subject". The subject, of course, being attitude research, and by "serious exploration", is meant "seriously off the mark exploration". To be sure that this is not merely my opinion, I present an empirical/quantifiable argument: the Index of Subjects of this book contains 4 items under "communication" and approximately 40 under "attitude". I rest my case.
Mehrabian, Albert 1973a. A Semantic Space for Nonverbal Behavior. In: Mortensen, David C. and Kenneth K. Sereno (eds.) 1973. Advances in communication research. New York: Harper & Row, 277-287.
A third type of approach has consisted of attempts to develop typologies for movement. This was used by investigators such as Birdwhistell (1952), Efron (1941), and more recently by Ekman and Friesen (1969b), and Freedman and Hoffman (1967). For instance, Ekman and Friesen (1969b) suggested a rather thorough system for the categorization of movements which they also related to that of other investigators. Unfortunately, evidence regarding the significance of the various cues which are categorized is generally lacking, and, more importantly, studies are not yet available to provide empirical justification for the separate categories proposed by these investigators. (Mehrabian 1973: 282)
Yeah, fuck common-sense and easily relatable categories, let's conjure up incomprehensible formulas, like (quoted from page 280) "Relaxation = .16Si - .1Ai(1 + Ei) - .1(EiDi)".
Mehrabian, Albert 1973b. Significance of Posture and Position in the Communication of Attitude and Status Relationships. In: Mortensen, David C. and Kenneth K. Sereno (eds.) 1973. Advances in communication research. New York: Harper & Row, 288-303.
In sum, then, the findings from a large number of studies corroborate one another and indicate that communicator-addresse distance is correlated with the degree of negative attitude communicated to and inferred by the addressee. In addition, studies carried out by sociologists and anthropologists indicate that distances which are too close, that is, inappropriate for a given interpersonal situation, can elicit negative attitudes when the communicator-addressee relationship is not an intimate personal one. (Mehrabian 1973b: 292)
I like how something as commonsensical as that requires elaborate and corroborative social psychological experiments and incomprehensible jargon to express. Here he also seems to distance himself from anthropologists and sociologists, who, in my opinion, have done much more to further out knowledge on these issues.
It should be noted that, in a number of studies where body orientation has been a variable of interest, the effects of body orientation and eye contact have been confounded. Greater degrees of eye contact with an addressee tend to be associated with a more direct orientation of the head, shoulders, and legs of a communicator toward his addressee. For example, Mehrabian (1968a), using an encoding method, found that for communicators who are in a standing position, shoulder orientation (i.e., the number of degrees that a plane perpendicular to the plane of the subject's shoulders is turned away from the media plane of his addressee) correlated - .41 with eye contact. In other words, in a standing position, the greater the directness of orientation toward the addressee, the greater was the eye contact with the addressee. Mehrabian (1968b) used indices of head shoulder, and leg orientation... (Mehrabian 1973: 296)
Yet again, highly complex description which he can himself sum up in very simple words. It is noteworthy that throughout the articles he continually refers to himself in third person, as should be done in peer-reviewed journals. It is noteworthy because he does it so often that if it were read without knowing who the author is, one would be inclined to think that the author is a great fan of Albert Mehrabian.
Interesting references gleaned from the book:
  • Garfinkel, H. Studies of the routine grounds of everyday activities. Social Problems, 1964, 11, 225-250.
  • Sheflen, A. E. The significance of posture in communication systems. Psychiatry, 1964, 27, 316-331.
  • Sheflen, A. E. Stream and structure of communicational behavior. Eastern Pennsylvania Psychiatric Institute, Behavioral Studies Monograph No. 1, 1965.
  • Bernstein, B. Elaborated and restricted codes: their social origins and some consequences. In J. J. Gumperz and D. Hymes, eds., The Ethnography of Communication, American Anthropologist, 1964, 66, No. 6, Part 2, 55-69.
  • B. Malinowski, "The Problem of Meaning in Primitive Language," in Magic, Science and Religion and Other Essays (Boston, 1948), pp. 228-76. TÜR


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