Expectancy Violation Theory and Sexual Resistance in Close, Cross-Sex Relationships Jennifer L. Bean Although previous research has suggested a link between sexual resistance and the violation of the resisted partner’s expectations, communication scholars have yet to utilize expectancy violation theory in a sexual resistance context.
As such, the current study examines the resisted individual’s perception of sexual resistance message directness and relational context in terms of three aspects of expectancy violations: violation valence, violation importance, and violation expectedness (Fall & Meets, 998). Findings indicate that participants view hypothetical sexual resistance from a long-term dating partner as a more negative and more unexpected expectancy violation compared with hypothetical rejection from a cross-sex friend.
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Further, when a participant is hypothetically rejected by way of direct communication of sexual resistance from his or her close relational partner, such a violation was perceived as more relationally important than indirect sexual resistance. These findings broaden the scope of expectancy violation theory to include sexual resistance in close legislations, replicate and validate the study of three separate expectancy violation aspects, and highlight sexual resistance as a potentially important relational event in close relationships. Sexual resistance researchers have established that long-term romantic partners believe that they can expect success when initiating a sexual encounter (Byers & Heinlein, 1989). Further, new dating partners find sexual resistance to be more unexpected than do either cross-sex friends or individuals in ambiguous male- female relationships (Meets, Cup, & laminar, 1992). Despite these findings, no now research has specifically linked the study of sexual resistance to expectancy violation theory (VET).
To provide theoretical insight into the degree to which sexual resistance is expected across close male-female relational contexts, the current study examines the level of directness of a sexual resistance message and the relational context the message occurs in from the resisted individual’s perspective within an EWE framework. Expectancy Violation Theory The field of communication has been instrumental in integrating theoretical foundations into investigations of sexual compliance/resistance situations.
Specifically, aspects of politeness theory and facedown (Fall & Lee, 2000; Meets et al. , 1992), uncertainty reduction theory (Edgar, Freight, Hammond, McDonald, & Fink, 1992), and planning theory (Fall & Lee, 2000) have been examined in relation Jennifer L. Bean (PhD, University of Georgia) assumes her duties as Assistant Professor at the Hank Greenness School of Communication, University of Nevada at Alas Vegas, on 1 August 2 3 1 nee autumn wellness to tank Jerry Hale, Jennifer Monomania, Jennie Cameron, and the anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments on the manuscript.
Communication expectancies denote “an enduring pattern of anticipated behavior” and can be individualized to a specific person or relationship (Burgeon, 1993, p. 31). An expectation of another is violated when that behavior differs from what is typical or expected (Fall & Meets, 1998). Such a violation results in cognitive arousal and a sequence of interpretation and evaluation that aids an individual in coping with the other’s unexpected behavior (Fall & Meets, 1998).
Moreover, when one violates a partner’s expectations, the partner is likely to be more attentive toward future messages relating directly to the nature of the relationship (Loopier & Burgeon, 1994). In the interpretation stage of the VET model the valence of an expectancy violation is established and contributes to the overall assessment of how rewarding an interaction will be (Burgeon, 1993; Burgeon & Hale, 1988).
Fall and Meets (1998) have gently expanded EWE to include three separate, but related, aspects of how expectancy violations are interpreted: (a) violation valence, involving the extent to which the behavior is seen as positive or negative, (b) violation expectedness, defined as the extent to which the behavior varies from the range of expected behaviors, and (c) violation importance, characterized as the impact that the behavior will have on the relationship. This study extends these dimensions to the realm of sexual resistance.
Sexual Resistance as an Expectancy Violation No known research has extended EWE to the study of sexual resistance between close Laotian partners. Never unless, TAHITI Ana Lee (UH, p. AY) note Tanat “sexual resistance is likely a task that produces considerable uncertainty, cognitive demands, time-constrained information processing, and online adaptation,” characteristics that are similar to the cognitive arousal, interpretation, and evaluation that often accompanies a partner’s unexpected behavior (Fall & Meets, 1998).
Further, sexual resistance is a situation that is highly vulnerable, volatile, emotionally sensitive, and accompanied by heightened emotional states and unique physiological changes (Edgar & Fitzpatrick, 1988, 1990). Choices in sexual situations (such as resisting a close partner’s advances) could be caused by differing sexual goals and often result in conflict, frustration, and embarrassment for one or both partners (Edgar & Fitzpatrick, 1988, 1990; Speeches & McKinney, 1993).
These characteristics of sexual resistance suggest strongly that its occurrence will result in the resisted parties believing that their expectancies have been violated. Two aspects of the sexual resistance situation-relational context and message directness-are particularly salient when considering sexual resistance as an expectancy violation because they eave been useful concepts in previous sexual resistance research (e. G. , Goldenberg, Genii, Salesman, & Open, 1999; Meets et al. , 1992) and because relational characteristics and communication behavior represent two important considerations in EWE (Burgeon & Hale, 1988).
Relational Context Despite recent research on expectancy violations in cross-sex friendships (Fall & 70 COMMUNICATION MONOGRAPHS Faulkner, 2000) and romantic relationships (Fall & Meets, 1998), little is known about the effect of relational context on the interpretation of the violation (see Burgeon & Hale, 1988 for a comparison between friends and strangers). Such a query is important, as relationship aspects are important factors throughout the expectancy violation model proposed by Burgeon and Hale.
Specifically, relational characteristics such as prior history and liking are considered when one partner decides whether or not the other’s behavior is an expectancy violation (Burgeon & Hale, 1988). One relational characteristic that seems important throughout the EWE process is the type of relationship the partners share. Put differently, societal and individual definitions of the relationship, acceptable behaviors between the partners, and implicit elation boundaries will likely play a significant role in how one interprets an expectancy violation.
Thus, the role of relational context in the interpretation (I. E. , violation importance, valence, and expectedness) of expectancy violations logically advances knowledge both about EWE as a theory and the consideration of expectancy violations as three separate aspects. Though not specifically examining sexual resistance, Fall and Faulkner (2000) found that the presence of sexual activity in cross-sex friendships varied in impact according to both the violation valence scribed to the behavior and the extent to which the friend’s feelings and intentions rater ten sexual please were Known.
Specifically, cross-sex Eternal tenant to use positive politeness strategies to resist sexual advances, possibly both to maintain the friendship and communicate sexual disinterest (Lee, 2001). Meets et al. (1992) found that sexual rejections occurring in new dating relationships were less expected, more face threatening, and more uncomfortable than rejections occurring in established, long-term cross-sex friendships and ambiguous male-female relationships. The current study extends Meets et al. Research by comparing two long-term close relationships, and by considering sexual resistance as an expectancy violation instead of as a face threat. Overall, sexual resistance between cross-sex friends is likely to have a significant impact because sexual interest and activity are moderately frequent but often ambiguous and confusing for both partners (Meets et al. , 1992). When considering long-term romantic relationships, Byers and Heinlein (1989) found that cohabiting couples were more likely than spouses to initiate sexual intercourse.
Further, Quinn, Sanchez-Hushes, Coates, and Gillie (1991) found that males in long- ERM relationships would stop sexual advances such as overt attempts to kiss and fondle their partners more readily than those in short-term partnerships. Thus, preliminary evidence suggests that long-term romantic partners exhibit unique sexual compliance/resistance patterns. Little is known, however, about how long-term romantic partners perceive sexual resistance within their relationships.
When comparing dating partners and cross-sex friends, sexual resistance between dating partners should be more negative, unexpected, and relationally important compared tit cross-sex friends. Because individuals in long-term romantic relationships were rarely unsuccessful in sexual initiations and are aware of their partners’ response to a sexual advance (Byers & Heinlein, 1989), long-term dating partners will likely initiate a sexual encounter when they think the chances of success are high.
In contrast, cross-sex friends are likely to view sexual resistance as a less negative, more expected, and less relationally important violation than daters because their relational definition does not include sexual behavior and their knowledge of friends’ captivity to sexual advances is likely to be fairly limited. The first hypothesis explores this possibility: 71 HI : Those being resisted by a dating partner will perceive sexual resistance as an expectancy violation that is (a) more negative, (b) more unexpected, and (c) more important than will those being resisted by a cross-sex friend.
Message Directness In addition to relational context, message directness is relevant to the application of EWE to sexual resistance situations. Direct strategies in sexual situations indicate messages with clear intent and no ambiguity about what the persuader would like to occur, whereas indirect sexual tactics leave more room for doubt about the persuaders Intentions, provoking NV or nerd Walt plausible inelegantly (Eager & Fitzpatrick, 1990).
Both Fall and Lee (2000) and Meets et al. (1992) have found that participants preferred using direct sexual resistance messages that were also instrumental in protecting the face of the resisted individual (I. E. , “I’m not sure that we’re ready for this”). In his language expectancy theory Burgeon (1995) proposes that individuals hold expectations about language that can affect whether or not they accept or reject a recursive message.
Consistent with this idea, the level of message directness from the individual resisting another’s sexual advance is believed to be a potentially important consideration for the resisted individual when interpreting an expectancy violation. Learning about the relationship between message directness and expectancy violation interpretation in the sexual resistance context is important for two reasons. First, comparing direct and indirect sexual resistance messages potentially expands the scope of EWE to include a new communicative antecedent of the expectancy violation process.
Second, research by Mangoes and Carrey (1996) on date initiation and expectancy violation theory suggested that whether one person initiated the date indirectly (I. E. , hinting) or directly (I. E. , asking) was partially responsible for the other’s expectancy violation with regard to the amount of sexual behaviors enacted on the date. This research suggests that a more focused inquiry into message directness and EWE is Justified. When considering the relational implications of sexual resistance message directness, Goldenberg et al. 1999), in comparing sexual resistance patterns in males ND females and American and Japanese cultures, demonstrated the positive relationship between use of indirect refusal strategies and the continuation of one’s new dating relationship. Goldenberg et al. Focused upon new dating relationships and the participant cultural and gender differences when exploring sexual resistance message directness, which differentiates their research from the current project.
Pertinent to EWE, Mangoes and Carrey (1996) reported that males had significantly higher sexual expectations when females directly asked them on a date, compared to the female indirectly hinting at date initiation. Even in long-term relationships, how directly sexual resistance is communicated can be related strongly to how that expectancy violation is interpreted. Thus, indirect sexual resistance should be perceived by long-term relational partners who are sexually resisted as a violation that is less negative, more expected, and less relationally important compared with direct sexual resistance.
The second hypothesis examines this relationship: H2O: Both cross-sex friends and dating partners who are resisted will perceive partners’ use of a direct sexual resistance message to be an expectancy violation that is (a) more active, (b) more unexpected, and (c) more important compared to indirect sexual resistance messages. 72 Participants Data were collected from a college-age sample taking introductory and advanced speech communication classes at a large, southern university.
The initial sample size was 342, but the elimination of individuals who did not respond to, or incorrectly answered, manipulation check items resulted in a final sample size of 307. Approximately 57% of the sample was female (n 0 174), with two individuals not reporting gender. The average age of the sample was 21 years (SD 0 2. 63, range 0 18- 0). Almost 89% of the sample classified themselves as White (n 0 272), 6% classified themselves as African American (n 0 19), almost 2% indicated that they were either Asian (n 0 5) or Hispanic (n 0 5), and 1% placed themselves in the “other” category (n 4).
Two participants did not report their ethnicity. All participants reported that they were either straight (n 0 306) or bisexual (n 0 1). Almost 39% of the sample reported being single and not dating (n 0 119), 27% indicated that they have been involved in a committed relationship for more than 1 year (n 0 82), 15% stated that they were ingle and dating one person (n 0 45), 10% reported that they were single and dating many individuals (n 0 31), and 9% indicated that they were in a committed relationship for less than 1 year (n 0 29).
One participant did not provide current relational status information. Finally, 69% of the sample reported that they had previously engaged in vaginal sex (n 0 213) and almost 30% reported that they had not yet had vaginal intercourse (n 0 91). Three participants did not respond to this item. General Procedures Participants received course research credit for taking part in the research. Their participation was voluntary and anonymous. Participants read and signed the consent form, and were then given the opportunity to ask questions about the project.
To ensure privacy the researcher asked participants to not speak to one another while they were answering the questionnaire and also not to look at other students’ surveys. Participants then were given the written questionnaire, and told to take as long as they needed to complete it (1 5 minutes was typical). Participants read one of eight sexual resistance scenarios and then answered items intended to measure the realism and frequency of occurrence of the scenario in their own close legislations and items assessing perceived message directness and strength.
The relevant dependent variable scales (violation valence, violation expectedness, violation importance) followed, along with two manipulation check items that measured the gender and relational context of the rejecter in the resistance scenario, items measuring participants’ level of sexual experience, current relational status, and demographic information. After they had completed the instrument, participants were given a debriefing form and an opportunity to ask questions about the research before being thanked and dismissed. Research Design and Pilot Test I nee Investigation employed a 2 (relational context: long-term cross-sex Eternal vs… Eng-term dating relationship) 0 2 (message directness: indirect vs… Direct) factorial design. The message directness independent variable was replicated so that a total of eight hypothetical scenarios were distributed randomly to participants, resulting in relatively equal distribution across conditions. 73 The scenarios, adapted from Meets et al. (1992), asked participants to imagine that they are either friends with or dating an individual named Chris, and then detailed a taxation in which the participants feel a sexual desire for Chris, attempt to initiate a sexual encounter, and are resisted.
The use of hypothetical scenarios was employed to avoid participant biases in the recall and memory of actual sexual resistance situations that often accompany retrospective recall techniques, and to measure simultaneously participants’ immediate and direct response to the relational event of interest and provide control over the specific situations the participants were to consider (Unblock & Solomon, 2002).
To select four resistance messages that were fairly equal in levels of strength and erectness for each manipulation, a total of 10 resistance messages classified previously as direct or indirect by a variety of sources (Garcia, 1998; Meets et al. , 1992; Motley & Redder, 1995; Unlearned, Andrews, & Bell, 1996) were pilot tested using undergraduates taking speech communication classes at a large, southern university (N 0 50, 50% female). Each participant was asked to read six of the 10 potential messages and then indicate how direct and strong they found each message to be, using 7-point, Liker-type scales (e. . , 1 0 “not at all direct”, 7 0 “completely direct”). The number of participants who were exposed to each potential resistance message ranged from 25 to 30. A series of t-tests revealed that two indirect messages produced levels of strength that were statistically equivalent to one another and significantly more indirect than the direct messages: (1) “It’s getting late”; and (2) “He/she does not appear to notice your advances and instead asks you to change the channel on the television. Further, two direct messages proved to have statistically equivalent amounts of strength and were also significantly more direct and strong than each of the indirect assuages: (1) “Please don’t do that”; and (2) “l don’t want to do this. ” Thus, these four resistance messages were used in the main investigation. Measures Scenario realism and frequency of occurrence. A number of items about the sexual resistance situation itself, adapted from Bean (1999) and Canary, Cody, and Marathons (1987), were presented.
Specifically, three items assessed how realistic the situation was (e. G. , “How realistic do you think this situation is? “), and two items measured how often or frequently the participant had actually experienced a similar situation (e. G. “How oaten NAS tans salutation occurred In your own cross-sex Tarantellas/tattling relationship? “). All items were measured on 7-point, Liker-type scales (e. G. , 1 0 “not at all realistic”, 7 0 “very realistic”).
As Table 1 depicts, participants found each of the eight scenarios to be realistic and easy to imagine, but did not experience these resistance situations frequently in their own close relationships. Because combining the realism items ( 0 . 91) and the frequency items ( 0 . 88) both resulted in internally consistent scales, two separate composite measures were computed. Sexual resistance message strength and directness. Strength and directness of the resistance messages were measured using items from Cameron (1998).