Two Contrasting Explanations of Involvement Violations: Expectancy Violations Theory Versus Discrepancy Arousal Theory

BETH A. Le POIRE, Judee K Burgoon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Scopus citations


Among the theories that address the impact of variations in immediacy behaviors during ongoing interactions are expectancy violations (EV) and discrepancy arousal (DA) theories. This study of the effects of violations of expectations on arousal, reciprocity, and compensation in the medical practitioner‐patient relationship contrasts EV predictions with DA predictions. EV theory predicts that given a communicator with high reward valence, high and very high involvement (including touch and close proximity) should be met with reciprocation (increased involvement), and low and very low involvement should be met with compensation (increased involvement). DA theory predicts compensating very high involvement with decreased involvement, reciprocating high involvement with increased involvement, compensating low involvement with increased involvement, and reciprocating very low involvement, with decreased involvement. Results supported neither theory as all involvement changes were met with reciprocity. Additionally, although all violations/discrepancies were followed by changes in arousal, size of arousal change was not monotonically related to size of involvement change, as predicted by DA theory. Finally, although positive versus negative emotional experiences were not related to physiological indicators of arousal change, size of involvement change was directly related to the experience of positive and negative emotions. Thus, it appears that involvement change size directly predicts emotional experience and is not mediated by arousal change.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)560-591
Number of pages32
JournalHuman Communication Research
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jun 1994

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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