Attaining Status at the Expense of Likeability: Pilfering Power Through Conversational Interruption

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Abstract

Do status expectations affect how we interpret interruption in conversation? Two experiments examined how interrupters and their targets are perceived in same- and mixed-gender dyads. In Experiment 1, participants listened to a brief audiotaped conversation in which one person interrupted the other five times. In Experiment 2, four confederates (two men and two women) systematically interrupted naïve participants while discussing an article. In general, interrupters gained in status and targets of interruption lost status. In addition, participants who were interrupted rated themselves as less influential than those who were not interrupted. As expected, interrupters, especially female interrupters, were liked less than those who did not interrupt. Theoretical implications are discussed.

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