Concept Application Paper #2: Nonverbal Assignment (Worth 70 points)
For this assignment I would like you to observe, describe, discuss, and compare two different interpersonal interactions. Please note that your role will be that of an observer. Thus, you will not participate in either interaction. You will be expected to situate yourself in such a way that you can observe each interaction and take notes without being intrusive.
Since the focus of your observations will be on nonverbal dimensions of the interactions, it is not necessary for you to hear the discussion. In fact, listening to the talk may distract you from the behaviors you plan to observe. What will be crucial will be your ability to observe the interactions.
Prepare for the observational part of the assignment by selecting two nonverbal aspects of interpersonal communication to study. Review definitions and descriptions of both behaviors in the course readings and your lecture notes to clarify your understanding of these behaviors.
Next, identify the types of relationships and specify the contexts of the interactions you will study. Since you will compare nonverbal behavior from each interaction, you might opt to observe the same type of relationship in two different contexts (i.e., mother/child interaction both at the park and at the waiting room of a medical office) or two different types of relationships in the same context (i.e., two students talking after class and a student and a professor talking after class).
Plan to observe each interaction for approximately 10 minutes. Since interactions are influenced by context, take notes about the physical environment. Include, for example, time of day, day of week, descriptions of the meeting place such as seating arrangement and proximity of others, and your location. Also note the social context and the behaviors you decided to observe. Look for patterns of behaviors and responses. For example, record how touch was used by noting who touched who and where (hand, arm, leg, etc.), which touches, if any, were reciprocated and how they were reciprocated. The emphasis is to be on the patterns of behavior that constitute the interaction. If you want to count and compare the number of behaviors, such as touches by each person, do so afterwards based on your notes since counting during the interaction will distract you from your observations.
Typed (12 pt. font, double spaced, 1” margins), Minimum total word count 1,050.
Organize your information in a clear, concise manner. Describe the physical and social contexts of the first interaction. Then define (acknowledge source such as the textbook, if used) and describe the first nonverbal behavior you observed. Note patterns of initiation and response. Repeat for the second nonverbal behavior. After describing the behaviors and patterns, interpret your observations by indicating how the behaviors impacted the interaction. (Clearly distinguish between what you observed and how you interpret your observations.) Repeat for the second interaction. Next, compare and interpret both interactions in terms of each behavior. Conclude by discussing the benefits and drawbacks of this assignment and how the assignment might be improved for future classes.