An empirical comparison of three theories of nonverbal immediacy exchange

Peter A. Andersen, Laura K. Guerrero, David B. Buller, Peter F. Jorgensen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

48 Scopus citations


This study provides a contrastive test of three immediacy-exchange theories: Burgoon's expectancy violations theory (EVT), Cappella and Greene's discrepancy-arousal theory (DAT), and Andersen's cognitive valence theory (CVT). EVT predicts that high immediacy, by rewarding communicators, leads to an orientation response and positive behavioral and affective outcomes. In contrast, DAT and CVT predict aversive arousal and compensatory responses in response to high immediacy increases. Findings from opposite-sex friend dyads failed to find unequivocal support for a single theory. Targets showed a mix of reciprocal and compensatory responses in the higher immediacy condition, indicating that existing immediacy-exchange theories should consider incorporating elements from all three theories and perhaps from dialectics theory to explain the complex reactions that occur in response to high immediacy changes from friends.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)501-535
Number of pages35
JournalHuman Communication Research
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jun 1998
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Anthropology
  • Linguistics and Language


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