Sex differences in eavesdropping on nonverbal cues

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Abstract

Three series of studies with 832 high school students, college students, and adults investigated the hypothesis that nonverbally, women are more interpersonally accommodating than men. The 1st series of studies showed that women lost much of their advantage in decoding visual cues when the cues were based on displays too brief to be under good sender control. The 2nd series of studies showed that as nonverbal cues became less intended (more “leaky”), women showed decreasing advantage over men in accuracy of decoding nonverbal cues. There was also a trend for women who were more skilled at eavesdropping on nonverbal cues to be seen as having less successful social outcomes. Women were also more biased to use (the more controllable) visual cues than tone of voice cues and especially so when the video cues were of the face rather than of the “leakier” body. The 3rd series of studies showed that women were more polite in their ascription of characteristics to others, more accurate in decoding of nondeceptive behavior, but substantially more likely to interpret deceptive cues as the deceiver wanted them to be interpreted. Finally, it was shown that women's nonverbal cues were more easily read than men's. (28 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved)

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