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Expectancy Violation

Laura K. Guerrero


Subject Communication Studies » Interpersonal Communication
Sociology » Social Psychology

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405131995.2008.x


Extract

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

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