Human communication, in essence, is about how humans interact and relay information to one another. It involves a wide variety of verbal and nonverbal methods and operates at the conscious and unconscious levels. The ways in which individuals communicate depend on many different variables, including age, social status, relationship (e.g., close friend versus new acquaintance), and culture. Psychological research on communication has also documented differences in communication based on gender.
These observed gender-based communication differences begin in childhood, with children often preferring same-sex play groups and demonstrating preferences for gender-typical styles of play. Differences continue through adulthood with variations in interaction style, language usage, leadership approaches, expression of emotion, and nonverbal behaviors (e.g., eye contact or touch). A great difficulty lies, however, in attempting to explain why gender-based communication differences exist. Is it possible to extricate sex and gender from the other aforementioned influences on communication? Research continues to search for trends in communication behavior to support theoretical explanations for gender differences.
For this Discussion, you will conduct your own observation of communication behaviors. You will analyze the behaviors for adherence to or difference from gender-typical behaviors in your culture and provide a theoretical argument for their potential causes.
- In a public place, such as a sporting event, the grocery store, the mall, a coffee shop, a park, or public transportation, conduct a 10- to 15-minute observation of the communication behaviors taking place around you. Write down your observations.
- Consider the behaviors you observed that may be categorized as gender typical or atypical.
By Day 4
Post a summary of the gender typical and atypical behaviors you observed. What other factors (e.g., age differences, power differences, cultural context) might have influenced the individuals to display those behaviors? Provide a theoretical base to support your explanation of these behaviors.
Readings for this week:
Helgeson, V. S. (2017). Psychology of gender (5th ed.). New York, NY: Taylor and Francis.
Chapter 7, “Communication” (pp. 278–321)
Chaplin, T. M., & Aldao, A. (2012). Gender differences in emotion expression in children: A meta-analytic review. Psychological Bulletin, 139(4), 735–765. doi:10.1037/a0030737.
Note: You will access this article from the Walden Library databases.