Effects of preinteraction expectancies and target communication on perceiver reciprocity and compensation in dyadic interaction

Judee K. Burgoon, Beth A. Le Poire, Robert Rosenthal

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107 Scopus citations


The current investigation examined the influence of expectancies and target communication on perceiver behavior during social interaction. Two common adaptation patterns in interpersonal interaction are reciprocity and compensation, both of which may occur in response to another′s interaction behavior or in anticipation of it. Expectancy signaling literature predicts that perceivers should initially reciprocate the behaviors they expect from a target. Strategic communication models predict that perceivers induced to hold preinteraction expectancies will reciprocate expected pleasant behavior but compensate for anticipated unpleasant behavior. Interaction adaptation theories hold that perceivers will adapt their behavior to the target′s actual (rather than expected) communication, reciprocating desired behavior as a way of reinforcing it and compensating undesired behavior as a way of modeling the preferred pattern. Expectancy violations theory holds that the choice of interaction pattern will also be moderated by the rewardingness of the target. An experiment crossed positive and negative preinteraction expectancies with greatly increased pleasantness (a positive violation) or decreased pleasantness (a negative violation) by target confederates. Overall, results conformed most closely to the interpersonal adaption theory explanation, with some influence also due to target valence and violation status. Perceivers interacting with pleasant targets reciprocated increased pleasantness initially and over time. Those interacting with unpleasant targets (a) matched the target in adopting a lower level of pleasantness/involvement on average, (b) showed modest compensation or nonadaptation on channel-specific measures but reciprocity on global ones over time, and (c) showed the most compensation when the unpleasant behavior followed a positive expectancy. Preinteraction expectancies yielded modest effects but did intensify or attenuate results relative to their absence, a conclusion corroborated by intraclass correlation analyses.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)287-321
Number of pages35
JournalJournal of Experimental Social Psychology
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1995

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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