The impact of violations on uncertainty and the consequences for attractiveness

W. A. Afifi, J. K. Burgoon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

97 Scopus citations


This investigation aimed at extending past research on expectation violations by arguing that violations vary both in valence and in their influence on uncertainty and that the combination of valence and uncertainty states conjointly influences judgments of a violator's social attractiveness. In explaining the predicted variance in uncertainty following violations, a distinction is proposed between congruent violations (i.e., behaviors that are more intense instantiations of a previously displayed message) and incongruent violations (i.e., behaviors that are opposite in meaning from previously displayed messages). Five models for explaining violation effects are contrasted. Results (a) confirm that violations differ in their impact on uncertainty, (b) generally support the validity of the proposed distinction between congruent and incongruent violations, and (c) show that the inclusion of uncertainty and valence in models of violation outcomes accounts for greater variance in social attraction than either one separately.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)203-233
Number of pages31
JournalHuman Communication Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2000

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Anthropology
  • Linguistics and Language


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