Full Text

Expectancy Violation

Laura K. Guerrero

Subject Communication Studies » Interpersonal Communication
Sociology » Social Psychology

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405131995.2008.x


People have expectations about how others should and will act in a given situation. Some expectations are based on personal knowledge about an individual, relationship, or situation. Other expectations are based on rules of social and cultural appropriateness. When a communicator's behavior deviates from these expectations, an expectancy violation has occurred. Expectancy violations theory (EVT) explains how people respond to unexpected communication. EVT, which was developed by Judee Burgoon, initially focused on violations of personal space (→  Proxemics ). The theory was later expanded to apply to other nonverbal behaviors and more general interpersonal events, including unexpected moves to escalate or de-escalate a relationship, transgressions such as deception and infidelity, and dating behavior ( Burgoon & Hale 1988 ; Burgoon et al. 1995 ). According to EVT, expectations come from three sources: communicator characteristics (such as personality), relationship characteristics (such as being friends vs being romantic partners), and context characteristics (such as culture and the situation). Behavior that confirms people's expectations generally goes unnoticed. Unexpected behavior, on the other hand, captures people's attention and leads to heightened arousal. Sometimes arousal change is aversive, leading to a fight-or-flight response. At other times arousal takes the ... log in or subscribe to read full text

Log In

You are not currently logged-in to Blackwell Reference Online

If your institution has a subscription, you can log in here:


     Forgotten your password?

Find out how to subscribe.

Your library does not have access to this title. Please contact your librarian to arrange access.

[ access key 0 : accessibility information including access key list ] [ access key 1 : home page ] [ access key 2 : skip navigation ] [ access key 6 : help ] [ access key 9 : contact us ] [ access key 0 : accessibility statement ]

Blackwell Publishing Home Page

Blackwell Reference Online ® is a Blackwell Publishing Inc. registered trademark
Technology partner: Semantico Ltd.

Blackwell Publishing and its licensors hold the copyright in all material held in Blackwell Reference Online. No material may be resold or published elsewhere without Blackwell Publishing's written consent, save as authorised by a licence with Blackwell Publishing or to the extent required by the applicable law.

Back to Top