Inappropriate Accommodation in Communication to Elders: Inferences about Nonverbal Correlates
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According to Communication Accommodation Theory, overaccommodation in intergenerational communication with elders is frequently based on stereotyped expectations of frailty and dependence. This study examined the role of nonverbal behaviors in such overaccommodation. Adult volunteers (N = 120; mean age = 29 years) read either a patronizing or neutral version of one of three conversations between a nursing home resident and a nurse. As in our earlier study, the nurse's use of the patronizing conversational style was rated as less respectful, less nurturant, and more frustrating for the resident than the neutral style. The main analyses indicated that negative nonverbal behaviors were rated as significantly more likely to occur with the patronizing style while positive nonverbal behaviors were rated as significantly less likely. The negative evaluative impact of patronizing style was especially apparent for instrumental task situations with high compliance demands. The effects for conversational style were essentially replicated for a smaller sample (N = 50) of formal care providers.
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