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Nancy M. Puccinelli and Linda Tickle-Degnen

ABSTRACT: This study examined the association between a partner's ability to eavesdrop on nonverbal cues and an actor's feelings of rapport during interaction, as well as neuroticism and self-monitoring as moderators of this effect. Eavesdropping ability was defined as lower sensitivity to cues of the face, a source of overtly displayed emotions, relative to sensitivity to cues of the body, a source of "leakage" of covert or hidden emotions. Results showed that actors felt less rapport the higher their partner's eavesdropping. High neuroticism actors were especially likely to feel worse about their interaction and themselves when their partners were good at eavesdropping. In both instances, the eavesdropper's nonverbal behavior seems to have mediated the associations to a small degree. KEY WORDS: eavesdropping; emotional responses; interpersonal interaction; nonverbal communication; satisfaction. Imagine one morning you receive word that a close relative has passed away. While you are deeply saddened by the news, you are confident that you can mask your grief and decide to proceed with your day as scheduled. However, much to your chagrin, a colleague who stops by to discuss a project, concludes the meeting by expressing his concern for your well-being. People often find themselves in situations in which they want to conceal negative affect in accordance with conversational norms.
Nancy M. Puccinelli is in the Department of Marketing, Suffolk University School of Managennent. Linda Tickle-Degnen is in the Department of Rehabilitation Sciences, Boston University. Both authors contributed equally to this paper. This research was supported by a Mary Switzer Research Fellowship to Tickle-Degnen from the National Institutes of Disability and Rehabilitation Research of the US Department of Education, a Sargent College of Boston University Accelerated Research Grant, and funding from the American Occupational Therapy Association, Inc., the American Occupational Therapy Foundation, and Boston University through the Neurobehavioral Rehabilitation Research Center for Scholarship and Research. Address correspondence to Nancy M. Upton (Puccinelli), Department of Marketing, Suffolk University School of Management, 8 Ashburton Place, Boston, MA 02108, USA; e-mail:
Journal of Nonverbal Behavior, 28(4), Winter 2004 2004 Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 223


However, despite their best efforts certain interaction partners may still be able to detect this concealed emotion and this detection may lead to a breakdown in rapport. It is well known that normative expectations seem to dictate that one should overlook the negative affect expressed in others, particularly if the individual tries to conceal it. In light of these conversation norms, individuals often collaborate implicitly to create a pleasant emotional milieu during interaction. The expression of positive and the control of negative feelings about oneself and the interacting partner seem to be fundamental normative expectations in dyadic relations, particularly in certain cultures, including American and Asian (Buck, Losow, Murphy, & Costanzo, 1992; DePaulo, 1992; Ekman & Friesen, 1969; Coffman, 1959; Howell & Conway, 1990; Markus, Kitayama, & Heiman, 1996; Noller, 1992). The normative expectation of relatively nonemotional interaction is underlined by evidence that individuals seek to neutralize both positive and negative affect in anticipation of interaction (Erber, Wegner & Therriault, 1996). Further, violation of these norms may have negative implications for the actor. These violations may stem from an actor's stable tendency to experience negative emotion, as is thought to be the case for individuals high in neuroticism (Costa & McCrae, 1992). Research finds, for example, that high neuroticism individuals who were expressive were rated as less clinically skilled by supervisors (Tickle-Degnen & Puccinelli, 1999). However, despite the pressures to be positive, not negative, and express positive, not negative, thoughts and emotions, individuals may not be able to rely on their own actions to conceal negative feelings. Whereas individuals have a great deal of control over the content of the words they use to express themselves, and furthermore, have control over much of their facial expression, they tend to "leak" covert feelings through less controllable nonverbal channels (Babad, Bernieri, & Rosenthal, 1989; Edelmann & Hampson, 1981; Ekman & Friesen, 1974; Lippa, 1978; Zuckerman, DePaulo, & Rosenthal, 1986). Specifically, the body, the tone of voice, and rapid changes in affective displays are all channels through which the covert feelings of an actor may be leaked. Even when leakage occurs, covert feelings can remain undiscovered when interacting partners overlook or fail to recognize emotional expression leaked through less controllable nonverbal channels. Consistent with the implicit collaboration involved in maintaining a pleasant milieu during interaction, an observer may ignore evidence of an actor's negative emotions: while one individual enacts only desirable feelings the other observes only desirable feelings. That is, it is more polite for a partner to take an actor at "face value" (Goffman, 1959; Rosenthal & DePaulo,


1979; Snodgrass & Rosenthal, 1985; Swann, Stein-Seroussi, & McNulty, 1992) and to refrain from knowing too much about the actor's true feelings. However, not all individuals are inclined to politely ignore or fail to register leakage of covert feelings. Some are particularly adept at perceiving and interpreting the less controlled channels of communication (body movements, tone of voice, rapid changes in affect) compared to the more controlled channels (speech and facial expression), and therefore, tend to rely on these less controlled channels for emotional information (DiMatteo & Hall, 1979; Rosenthal, Hall, DiMatteo, Rogers, & Archer, 1979). Rosenthal and DePaulo (1979) coined the term "eavesdropping on nonverbal cues" to describe observers' ability to accurately interpret information that actors leak through the less controlled channels of communication. They found that females generally were more polite than males in their interpretation of nonverbal cues, relying heavily on the face for emotional information, and that females showed a decline in eavesdropping on less controlled channels of communication relative to males from adolescence to adulthood (Blanck, Rosenthal, Snodgrass, DePaulo, & Zuckerman, 1981). These findings may be consistent with normative expectations for women to smooth interpersonal relations (Hall, Carter, & Hogan, 2000). Effect of Detecting Hidden Emotions There has been a relatively small amount of research on the interpersonal ramifications of eavesdropping on nonverbal cues. As a result, very little is known about whether interactions, interaction participants, and subsequent relationships actually suffer from eavesdropping. Snodgrass and Rosenthal (1985) found that eavesdropping on uncontrolled channels of nonverbal behavior in adult interactions resulted in more accurate detection of covert feelings. One might reason that eavesdropping would be detrimental to smooth social functioning, since politeness norms, would operate against knowing too much about others' hidden emotions. Accordingly, in a study of adolescents, high school teachers rated their students who were less likely to eavesdrop (that is, who were very skilled at interpreting facial cues relative to leakier channels) as more socially effective with peers than their students who were more likely to eavesdrop (that is, were less skilled in reading the face relative to leakier channels) (Rosenthal & DePaulo, 1979). Research using a different measure of eavesdropping finds that individuals able to eavesdrop on negative emotions are rated as less effective in an organizational setting by a supervisor (Elfenbein & Ambady, 2002). In sum, this research would suggest that


detection of negative emotion might negatively impact felt rapport in an interaction, however, studies have yet to investigate its effect on rapport during interaction. If the normative expectations of an interaction are congruent with the detection of covert feelings, eavesdropping on uncontrolled nonverbal channels may have different effects. Indeed, in certain settings, interactants may benefit from the heightened interpersonal sensitivity offered by detection of hidden emotion. Studies of physician sensitivity to nonverbal cues generally have demonstrated that sensitivity to body cues had a more positive association with patient relations and rated clinical skill than did sensitivity to facial cues. Physicians who were more, compared to less, sensitive to body cues were rated by supervisors as demonstrating greater clinical ability (Rosenthal et al., 1979), had more satisfied patients (DiMatteo, 1979), and were more popular with patients (DiMatteo, Prince, & Hays, 1986; although patient satisfaction ratings in this study were unrelated to the physician's sensitivity to cues in any channel). As DiMatteo et al. (1986) have pointed out, physicians who are particularly attuned to patient body cues may be more likely to perceive and address, therapeutically, patient distress before that distress leads to problems with patient involvement in treatment. Furthermore, patients may be expecting their physicians to express empathic understanding of covert feelings. There is also some evidence which suggests that detection of hidden emotion may extend to other service contexts. Research that has examined the effect of detecting emotions on consumer perception of customer service finds that employees more sensitive to overt face and covert body cues were judged by customers to be better service providers (Markos & Puccinelli, 2004). However, even within the service domain the desirability of sensitivity to body cues may depend on the context (Tickle-Degnen, 1998). Research finds for example that occupational therapists skilled at eavesdropping, or reading covert cues, were rated higher by superiors in a pediatric rehabilitation setting and lower in a psychiatric rehabilitation setting (Tickle-Degnen, 1998). In a clinical setting that treats children who may have difficulty communicating via controlled channels, clinicians would be expected, if not encouraged, to read body cues to help a patient. Moreover, these younger patients may not have yet espoused social norms that suggest otherwise. In contrast, an adult psychiatric facility may be characterized by the same norms as nonclinical settings as patients work to adapt to everyday adult life. Thus, the effect of eavesdropping may depend largely on the context and in some circumstances could be beneficial to rapport.


Detecting Hidden Emotions and Rapport In summary, the findings suggest that actors' feelings of rapport with eavesdropping partners may vary with the normative expectations for communication implicit in a particular social context. In an adult peer interaction, one might predict that actors who had motives to retain feelings as covert because of normative pressures and personal attributes, would feel lower rapport and worse about oneself with a partner able to eavesdrop on nonverbal cues. Thus, actors motivated to conceal their emotions, such as those who frequently experience negative emotion or tend to self-monitor, would feel worse when paired with a partner skilled at eavesdropping. Research indicates that individuals high in self-monitoring are motivated to comply with the normative climate of an interaction, adjust their behavior to create desirable impressions, and are less likely to have their negative feelings detected by observers than individuals low in self-monitoring (Lippa, 1978; Snyder, 1987; Sullins, Friedman, & Harris, 1985). Consequently, the purpose of the present study was to examine whether or not an actor's rapport-related feelings could be predicted from an interacting partner's ability to eavesdrop on nonverbal cues. It is suggested that this predictive association is moderated by the actor's motives to keep feelings covert. Another objective was to investigate whether the association between the actor's feelings and the partner's ability to eavesdrop on nonverbal cues was mediated by the partner's nonverbal behavior.

Neuroticism and Rapport Consistent with the notion that people seek to conceal negative emotions, it has been found that negative feelings and, more generally, the trait of neuroticism are hard for observers to detect (Borkenau & Liebler, 1992; Buck etal., 1992; Campbell & Rushton, 1978; Colvin, 1993; Funder & Sneed, 1993; Gangestad, Simpson, DiGeronimo, & Biek, 1992). It is suggested that this arises because actors recognize the low social desirability of negative emotional expression and are motivated to control the expression of negative cues (Colvin, 1993; Lippa, 1978). It would seem to follow from this that people who are more likely to experience negative emotions (i.e., high neuroticism individuals) would seek to conceal their emotion and feel badly when it is exposed. This would seem to be especially true if they also were motivated to create desirable impressions (i.e., high self-monitors). Accordingly, it was hypothesized that an actor prone to experiencing


negative emotions would feel less comfortable and would feel lower rapport the higher the eavesdropping ability of a partner. Further, it is suggested that the partner's nonverbal behavior would mediate the association between the partner's eavesdropping ability and the actor's feelings. The primary hypotheses were as follows: Hypothesis 1: Actors who interact with partners more skilled at eavesdropping report worse interpersonal outcomes. Hypothesis 2: HI is particularly true for actors high in neuroticism, and especially so when also high in self-monitoring. Hypothesis 3: Favesdropping ability is manifested in observable nonverbal behavior. Hypothesis 4: Nonverbal eavesdropping behavior mediates the association of eavesdropping ability and interpersonal outcomes.

Method Participants The data for this research comprised part of a larger study that included seventy-eight students from three colleges in Massachusetts.^ Seventythree of the participants were female (mean age = 24.7, range = 19-46).^ Procedure Thirty-nine dyads were videotaped during a discussion interaction that focused on their daily lives and aspirations. We attempted to randomly assign students to dyad within each college and within the constraints of their individual schedules. The students were early in their training as health professionals and were aware that their rapport behavior was being assessed. Therefore, there was an implicit requirement to display their best professional behavior and to create a favorable impression. Immediately after the 10-min interaction, dyad members individually filled out a number of self-report items on their own about their feelings and experience during the interaction. At another session, the participants completed the Body-Face Profile of Nonverbal Sensitivity (PONS; Rosenthal et al., 1979), the NFO-Five Factor Inventory (Costa & McCrae, 1992), and the Self-Monitoring Scale (Snyder, 1987).


Predictor Variable: Eavesdropping The primary predictor variable was the partner's ability to eavesdrop on nonverbal cues as measured by nonverbal sensitivity to the body relative to the face. The average accuracy in interpreting body behavior depicted in the 20 videotaped scenes of the Body PONS provided a measure of body sensitivity, while the average accuracy in interpreting facial behavior in the 20 scenes of the Face PONS provided a measure of face sensitivity. For this sample, the correlation between the Body and Face measures was .02, indicating they were orthogonal. The subtraction of the average Face PONS score from the average Body PONS score yielded an eavesdropping ability score. High on eavesdropping ability was defined as an advantage in body sensitivity relative to face sensitivity for a given individual. Internal consistency for the sensitivity measures has been found to average .20 to .37, and test-retest reliability to average .30 (Rosenthal et al., 1979; Rosenthal & DePaulo, 1979). Despite generally low reliability, the findings from other studies with these measures suggest they have discriminative (e.g. Rosenthal & DePaulo, 1979) and predictive validity (DiMatteo, 1979). Interpersonal Outcome Measures: Self-Reported Feelings Immediately following the videotaped sessions, participants separately rated their thoughts and feelings on 7-point scales. The items to assess selfreported feelings were based on Tickle-Degnen and Rosenthal's work (1990, 1992) on the three components of rapport (mutual attentiveness, mutual positivity, and coordination) and on the work of Csikszentmihaiyi and Csikszentmihaiyi (1988, pp. 255-258) on optimal experience. Principal component and correlational analyses demonstrated that four composite variables (formed by averaging the ratings of correlated items) best summarized the variance among the items. The composite variables, internal consistency coefficients (Cronbach's a, 1951), and the rating items are as follows: 0) Rapport (5 items, a = .95). How much the participant felt aware of and interested in the other dyad member (ratings of attentiveness), liked and felt warm towards the other (ratings of positivity), felt a comfortable rhythm with and felt coordinated with the other (ratings of interpersonal coordination), felt rapport with the other, and felt that the other had each of these same feelings. (2) Sociability (6 items, a = .90). How much the participant felt cheerful, sociable, proud, open, relaxed, and cooperative during and after the interaction.


(3) Personal competence (12 items, a = .86). How much the participant felt in control, successful, good about oneself, alert, happy, active, involved, excited, clear, and concentrated during and after the interaction. Also, how much the participant felt in flow during the interaction (the geometric mean of a feeling skilled and a feeling challenged rating, based on the Csikszentmihalyi and Csikszentmihalyi (1988) view that optimal experience occurs when one feels both skilled and challenged). (4) Self-consciousness (3 items, a = .65). How much the participant felt that it was hard to concentrate, felt self-conscious, and was aware of the camera during the interaction.

Moderating Variables Neuroticism. The primary moderating variable of interest was the participant's level of neuroticism as measured by the average response on the 12 items of the Neuroticism subscale of the NEO-Five Factor Inventory (NEO-FFI, Costa & McCrae, 1992). The score could range from 0 to 4, with a 4 indicating high neuroticism. Self-monitoring. We anticipated that the moderating effect of neuroticism would be augmented when an actor was high in self-monitoring as measured by the average response on the 18-item version of the SelfMonitoring Scale (SMS; Snyder, 1987, p. 179). A modified version was used in which a five-point scale (from '0,' strongly disagree, to '4,' strongly agree) was used for each item. Mediator Variable: Judged Nonverbal Behavior We used the videotapes of one of the colleges (N = 44 participants in 22 dyads) in the analysis of the participants' nonverbal behavior. Sixteen undergraduates volunteered to judge the behavior. To ensure that none of the judges knew the dyad members, we selected judges from a different institution. Using nine-point scales, nine of these untrained judges rated the behavior of the participant sitting on the left portion of the screen and seven rated the behavior of the right-seated participant. The sound was turned off and the judges could only see the target dyad member - their partner was blocked from view. The judges rated the nonverbal behavior from 15-s clips taken 4 min into the interaction. Principal component and correlational analyses demonstrated that five composite variables (formed by averaging the ratings on items) best


summarized the variance among items rated by the judges. The composite variables are listed below. We calculated internal consistency (alpha) from the comparison of each participant's score on each item (as averaged across all judges for a single participant) that made up a composite. We calculated the effective interrater reliability (r) of 7 or 9 judges (right or left-seated partner) from the comparison of each judge's composite score for each participant: {^) Responsiveness (3 items, a = .82, r = . 5 9 ) . The judged degree to which the participant mirrored the posture of, moved simultaneously with, and exhibited a similar tempo to their partner. Because judges saw only one of the dyad partners when making these judgments, this variable is a measurement of the degree of responsive movement oriented toward the unseen partner, rather than actual synchrony or similarity to the partner. (2) Friendliness (10 items, a .73, r = .80). The judged degree to which the participant was talkative, experiencing mutual respect, active in the interaction, friendly, experiencing mutual understanding, warm, interested, acquainted with the other person, involved, distant (reverse),and holding back (reverse). {3) Dominance (12 items, a = .77, r= .77). The judged degree to which the participant was powerful, in control, educated, accomplished, focused, capable, possessing a coordination and smoothness of motion, wise, comfortable, submissive (reverse), tense (reverse), and domineering. (4) Critical scrutiny (5 items, a = .89, r=.56). The judged degree to which the participant was judgmental, critical, sizing-up the other person, hostile, and condescending. (5) Polite sympathy (3 items, a = .77, r=.62). The judged degree to which the participant was polite, consoling, and sympathetic.


Preliminary analyses examined associations between variables using methods appropriate for dyadic level analysis (Gonzalez & Griffin, 2000). Testing of the study's hypotheses followed Kenny's (1996) model of nonindependence in dyadic research and Baron and Kenny's (1986) approach for evaluating moderating and mediating effects.


Associations Among Variables Table 1 shows the descriptive statistics and correlations among the predictor, moderator, and outcome variables. There are three types of correlations in the table (for details about calculations, see Gonzalez & Griffin, 2000). Overall within-individual correlations, above the diagonal in the table, examine the association between an individual's responses on the two measures indicated in the table. Pairwise intraclass correlations, in parentheses on the diagonal, examine the association between the two dyad members' responses on a single measure. Finally, cross-intraclass correlations, below the diagonal, examine the association between one dyad member's response on one measure and the other member's response on a different measure. As might be expected the interpersonal outcome variables were highly intercorrelated (average r - .41), as were the nonverbal behavior variables (average r = .39). Positive interpersonal outcomes were consistent with higher rapport, sociability, and personal competence, and lower self-consciousness, while a positive nonverbal response was characterized by higher responsiveness, friendliness, dominance and polite sympathy, and lower critical scrutiny. The pairwise intraclass correlations showed significant interdependence among dyad members' experience of sociability ( r = .55) and their behavioral responsiveness (r=.44) and friendliness (r=.44). In other words, dyad members were similar in their experience of sociability and also in their responsive and friendly behavior. No other variables along the diagonal demonstrated statistically significant interdependence. The cross-intraclass correlations provide preliminary evidence related to the testing of H I . In line with H I , a partner's eavesdropping ability was significantly related to less positive interpersonal outcomes. Higher partner eavesdropping ability predicted lower feelings of rapport {r-.25) and personal competence ( r = - . 2 5 ) in the actor and higher selfconsciousness (r= .26). It should be noted that in spite of random assignment of actors and partners, eavesdropping ability and neuroticism were also correlated between dyad members ( r = .28).

Eavesdropping Ability and Interpersonal Outcomes To more powerfully test H I , multiple regression analyses were conducted that examined the specific partner eavesdropping associations while controlling for variance shared with the main effect of actor neuroticism. Following Kenny (1996), for each of the outcome variables that showed





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nonsignificant and low interdependence in the dyad members (as shown in the diagonal of Table 1)-rapport, personal competence, and self-consciousness-we treated the individual as the unit of analysis. For the outcome variable sociability, that showed significant interdependence in the dyad members, we used methods described by Kenny (1996) for nonindependent outcome measures. The control variables of actor eavesdropping ability and actor neuroticism, partner eavesdropping ability, and the interaction term of partner eavesdropping ability and actor neuroticism were the predictors. The interaction variables were centered at their means before their product was calculated in order to remove variance attributable to the main effects of these variables. Table 2 shows the results from the regressions for the outcomes of actor rapport, personal competence, and self-consciousness. In support of H I , partner eavesdropping ability significantly predicted actor feelings of

TABLE 2 Tests of HI and H2: Partner Eavesdropping Ability and Moderating Role of Actor Neuroticism in Predicting Actor Feelings (/V = 78) Outcome and Predictors Actor Rapport Control: Actor Eavesdropping Control: Actor Neuroticism (N) Partner Eavesdropping (P) Px N Actor Personal Competence Control: Actor Eavesdropping Control: Actor Neuroticism (N) Partner Eavesdropping (P) Px N Actor Self-Consciousness Control: Actor Eavesdropping Control: Actor Neuroticism (N) Partner Eavesdropping (P) Px N
df= 73. *p < .05 (one-tailed).




-0.11 -0.05 -0.15 -0.10 -0.15 -0.03 0.16 0.21 0.26

0.06 0.11 0.06 0.07 0.07 0.12 0.06 0.08 0.12 0.23 0.12 0.14

1.92* 0.20 1.97* 1.59 0.74 1.24 1.51 1.89* 0.25 0.69 1.77* 1.84*


rapport (p < .03) and self-consciousness (p < .05). There was also a trend indicating a predictive relationship for personal competence as well (p < .07). Actors felt higher rapport, higher personal competence, and lower self-consciousness, the lower their partner's eavesdropping ability. The analysis for sociability was not significant (6 = .04, SE .09, ^62) = .44, ns). Subsequent analyses demonstrated no support for the hypotheses related to sociability and are not described further. Actor neuroticism did not effect interpersonal outcomes when controlling for the other variables in the equation, thus, consistent with H2, its role as a moderating variable was supported. The partner eavesdropping association with interpersonal outcomes was larger for actors higher in neuroticism relative to those lower in neuroticism. The higher their partner's eavesdropping ability, the lower the rapport (p < .06), lower personal competence (p < .04), and higher self-consciousness (p < .04) felt by higher neuroticism actors relative to actors lower in neuroticism. To examine the moderating role of actor self-monitoring, we conducted a median split of actors^ {M = 1.39, SD = 0.30 and A^ = 2.23, SD = 0.40 for low and high scorers, respectively) and regressed the interpersonal outcomes on the control, predictor, and interaction variables separately for high and low self-monitors. Table 3 shows the results of these analyses. Low self-monitors experienced lower rapport (f(33) =
TABLE 3 The Interaction Effect of Partner Eavesdropping Ability and Actor Neuroticism on Interpersonal Outcomes Separately for Low and High Self-Monitors Low Self-Monitoring Outcomes Rapport Personal Competence Self-Consciousness B -0.17 -0.02 0.58 SE 0.10 0.12 0.23 t(33) 1.68* 0.15 2.56* High Self-Monitoring 6 -0.15 -0.21 0.15 SE 0.09 0.11 0.19 t(35) 1.59 2.04* 0.76 |Difference| 0.02 0.20 0.43

Note. These are the regression results for the interaction of partner eavesdropping ability with actor neuroticism after controlling for the main effect variables of actor eavesdropping ability and neuroticism, and partner eavesdropping. None of the differences between low and high self-monitoring achieved statistical significance. *p < .05 (one-tailed).


1.68, p < .05) and higher self-consciousness (f (33) = 2.56, p < .05) as their own neuroticism and their partner's eavesdropping ability increased. Personal competence, however, was unaffected (f < 1). High self-monitors, on the other had experienced lower personal competence (?(35) = 2.04, p < .05) and lower rapport (f(35) = 1.59, p < .07) when higher on neuroticism and paired with an eavesdropping partner, yet experienced little in terms of self-consciousness (f < 1). Perhaps low self-monitors had little apparent response in terms of feelings of personal competence because they did not judge their own interpersonal performance against social cues. In contrast, high self-monitors were already self-aware and thus experienced a reduced feeling of personal competence due to judging themselves against negative social cues given off by the eavesdropper. These results provide suggestive evidence that eavesdropping creates a negative experience that varies according to the actor's personal motives to manage their impressions. Eavesdropping Ability and Nonverbal Behavior To test H3, eavesdropping ability was regressed on the five measured dimensions of nonverbal behavior. The best predictive model was one that included both friendliness and dominance. Individuals who were high in eavesdropping ability demonstrated low friendliness (6 =-0.66, SE = .34, t{4^) = ^.94, p < .06) and high dominance (B = 0.88, SE = .39, f(41) = 2.26, p < .03). The findings suggest that Cool Dominance was the behavior most indicative of eavesdropping ability. A new composite was formed to represent cool dominance in subsequent mediational analyses by z-scoring each variable, and subtracting friendliness from dominance scores. This new variable had a pairwise intraclass correlation of .39 (p < .10), indicating that dyad members tended to be similar in their display of cool dominance behavior. To test H4, the mediating role of partner cool dominance in the association between partner eavesdropping and interpersonal outcomes, we conducted separate regressions for actors who were lower versus higher in neuroticism, as defined by a median split {M = 1.32, SD = 0.44, n = 21 and M = 2.61, SD = 0.40, n = 23 for low and high, respectively). The analysis followed Baron and Kenny's (1986) step-by-step approach, with results reported below: Step 7. Establish association befween predictor and outcome. The association between partner eavesdropping and interpersonal outcomes was not supported for actors lower in neuroticism (f < 1, for all outcomes). However, the association was supported for actors higher in neu-


roticism for rapport (^20) = 2.08, p < .05), personal competence (^20) = 2.28, p<.05), and self-consciousness (f(20) = 2.44, p < .05). Table 4 shows all results for the mediation test for the higher neuroticism group only. Figure 1 shows the paths tested for mediation. Sfep 2. Establish association between predictor and mediator variable. Because the potential mediator variable of cool dominance demonstrated non-independence in the dyad members, we conducted separate regressions between and within dyads in order to calculate specific actor and partner regression coefficients. The association between eavesdropping and one's own cool dominance was significant {t{20) = 2.36, p < .05). Sfep 3. Establish the association between the mediator and outcome, while controlling for predictor variable. This step was supported for the outcome of personal competence only. High neuroticism actors felt more personally competent when the partner was warm and submissive rather than cool and dominant (f(20) = 2.06, p < .05). The coefficients were in the expected direction for rapport and self-consciousness, though not significant, with cool dominance having a negative association with rapport and a positive one with self-consciousness. Sfep 4. Establish complete mediation by testing whether the association between predictor and outcome is zero while controlling for mediator variable. The coefficient for the prediction of personal competence from partner eavesdropping was reduced from -0.26 (p < .05) at Step 1 to -0.17 {ns) at Step 2. Although the path did not reduce to 0, which would occur had mediation been complete, it reduced enough to suggest partial mediation. The Sobel Test, which tests whether the mediation path ab is significantly different from 0, approached significance for the path to personal competence (-1.72, p < .09), but did not approach significance for the other two outcome variables.


The present research sought to investigate eavesdropping on negative emotionality as it affects rapport in dyadic interaction. Consistent with the hypotheses, the study finds a partner's eavesdropping ability predicts worse interpersonal outcomes especially for higher neuroticism actors. Finally, it seems that this effect may be mediated by the nonverbal cool dominance behavior of the eavesdropping partner. The results showed that actors higher in neuroticism and likely to be experiencing negative emotions felt worse about their interaction and themselves when partners


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Actor's Rapport Feelings

Figure 1. Model of mediation based upon Kenny and Baron (1986).

were good eavesdroppers. This evidence suggests that an eavesdropper may "know too much" and rapport can be compromised when there is a potential exposure of undesirable emotions. It has been suggested here that in a typical interaction, social norms dictate that communication of overt and concealment of covert emotions is the most common and preferred strategy. However, in some situations or with certain types of people, the communication or privacy of covert feelings may take precedence over the communication or not of overt feelings, rendering sensitivity to body cues more appropriate than face cues. For example, in a restaurant service setting, in which there is a precise script that constrains patron behavior, you may be impressed and delighted when a service provider detects your covert feelings (and brings you dessert!). In other situations or with other types of people, the communication of overt feelings may take precedence, with sensitivity to face cues being the focus of attention over sensitivity to body cues. Eor example, in a negotiation around a contentious issue, acceptance of overt emotional expression may lead to a more productive discussion than one that includes communication of the resentment and anger that lie beneath it. In the current study, those individuals who were higher in neuroticism relative to their partners may have been more concerned with hiding covert feelings than having overt ones accepted. It would be interesting to explore in future studies whether the salience could be reversed so that participants who were high in neuroticism would be more concerned with having covert feelings communicated and accepted. For example, efforts could be made to encourage participants to feel comfortable with expressing feelings of incompetence. The stronger findings for feelings of rapport, personal competence, and self-consciousness relative to feelings of sociability suggest that


another's eavesdropping on one's nonverbal cues may not reduce positive affect and outgoingness so much as it disrupts the absorption and focus on the other person that is necessary for smooth interaction. It may turn the focus back on the self. Neuroticism is defined in part by feelings of personal inadequacy (Costa & McCrae, 1992; Eysenck & Eysenck, 1985; Watson & Clark, 1984). The more neurotic actor may not blame the eavesdropper for seeing inadequacies but rather blame the self for having them. The negative experience associated with eavesdropping may be a result of heightened self-awareness (as if a light is shone on the self) or because there is a perception that the eavesdropper is about to confirm that one's self falls short of social expectations, particularly in comparison to the eavesdropper. In either case, the eavesdropper must signal that eavesdropping is occurring. There is some modest evidence from the current study that the facial expressions and body movements of eavesdroppers signaled their scrutinizing behavior to the negatively emotional actor. Specifically, we found cool dominance mediated, to a small degree, the negative relationship between the partner's sensitivity to nonverbal cues and the actor's feelings of competence. Further investigation into the mechanisms underlying the relationship between nonverbal sensitivity and eavesdropping is warranted. Since this study was correlational in nature, it is not known whether actors' were actually responding to eavesdropping and if other factors could account for the associations between partner nonverbal sensitivity and actor feelings but provides an opportunity in future research to explore the mechanism for the negative implications of eavesdropping. A more comprehensive analysis of how eavesdropping is communicated might include assessment of all channels of communication, including verbal, facial, bodily, and vocal. Vocal intonation, for example, was found by Swann et al. (1992) to indicate a partner's disdain of an actor who had a negative self-concept (actors, however, appeared to overlook this source of information in their assessment of the interaction, in part, perhaps because vocal intonation is among the most difficult nonverbal behaviors to decode). In the case of eavesdropping, identification of cues that imply impending exposure of undesirable emotions would be the cues most salient to individuals who have emotions to hide: cues such as verbal questioning about emotions, intense visual probing, skeptical nods, and listener responses ("uh-huh"). In sum, the current investigation has important implications for our understanding of interpersonal sensitivity and its impact on interpersonal interaction. While the ability to eavesdrop may provide an observer with a more accurate assessment of an actor's feeling state, this may come at


the expense of the rapport between the actor and observer. An appreciation of this trade-off highlights the relevance of this work to real-world settings. For example, in the initial stages of relationship development between a firm and prospective client, the firm may not want to include eavesdroppers on the prospecting team to ensure that interactions go as smoothly and positively as possible. However, once the relationship is established, it may be to the firm's advantage to read the hidden emotions of the client as they negotiate a contract. In short, greater understanding of eavesdropping and its implications can make a substantial contribution at both an applied and theoretical level.

1 As there was no effect of college, the data from the three colleges were merged. 2. The current study draws from a larger dataset. It is the only study from this dataset that has focused on eavesdropping ability. 3. Treating self-monitoring as a dichotomous variable seems to better model the effects of this variable and simplify interpretation.

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