Effects of helper and recipient sex on the experience and outcomes of comforting messages: An experimental investigation

Susanne M Jones, Brant R. Burleson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations

Abstract

The purpose of this experimental study was to examine whether and in what ways the sex of the helper and the recipient moderate the effects of comforting messages in face-to-face interactions. A total of 216 participants disclosed an emotionally upsetting event to a confederate trained to display different levels of nonverbal immediacy and verbal person centeredness. Men and women responded very similarly to comforting messages that exhibited different levels of verbal person centeredness and nonverbal immediacy, and this response similarity was not moderated by the sex of the helper. Both men and women were most comforted by messages that exhibited high levels of person centeredness and nonverbal immediacy, and they were least comforted by messages that exhibited low levels of these qualities. Moreover, both sexes viewed highly person-centered and immediate messages as exhibiting the highest comforting quality, and, with one minor exception, both sexes viewed helpers who used these messages as the most competent.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-19
Number of pages19
JournalSex Roles
Volume48
Issue number1-2
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2003
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Comforting messages
  • Emotional support
  • Nonverbal immediacy
  • Verbal person centeredness

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