Evaluations by staff, residents, and community seniors of patronizing speech in the nursing home: Impact of passive, assertive, or humorous responses. Journal Articles uri icon

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  • Two studies tested the impact of alternative communication in accommodation strategies. Nursing home staff and residents (and community-residing seniors in Study 2) rated nurse-resident conversational scenarios in which a resident responded passively, directly assertively, or humorously (indirectly assertively) to a patronizing nurse. The nurse then either maintained a patronizing manner or accommodated with a more respectful speech style. Even though all groups devalued the nurse who maintained a patronizing speech style, nursing home residents predictably showed the most acceptance. The directly assertive response by the resident elicited more devaluation of the nonaccommodating nurse than did either passive or humorous responses, but also the least favorable ratings of the resident. Ratings of the humorous response in Study 2 suggested that humor could be a good compromise response style for allowing the receiver of patronizing speech to express opposition to a request, yet still maintain an appearance of competence and politeness.


  • Ryan, Ellen
  • Kennaley, Diane E
  • Pratt, Michael W
  • Shumovich, Martha A

publication date

  • June 2000