ETHNICITY AND THE CAPACITY TO INTERPRET NONVERBAL COMMUNICATION
DENNIS, DOTHLYN JUILET GRIFFITHS
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The interpretation of various nonverbal messages was investigated by the use of the Profile of Nonverbal Sensitivity (PONS) test.;This study investigated the effect of ethnicity on the interpretation of nonverbal communication. Other hypotheses examined the effects of facial expressions, gestures, hand and body movements and academic performance.;The sample consisted of 60 female subjects who were evenly distributed across the three ethnic groups, Black, Caucasian and Hispanic. These subjects were college students with varying academic backgrounds. Each subject was required to view 220 segments, black and white film, and score their impressions based on two possible answers. The film had 220 two-second auditory and visual nonverbal scenes that were random presentations over eleven different nonverbal channels. The model in the film presenting the messages was Caucasian.;The hypothesis suggesting that academic performance related to capacity to interpret nonverbal communication was not supported. However, the trends in higher high school averages for the Caucasian and Hispanic groups might have enhanced their abilities in the amount of correct responses they produced.;The second hypothesis of individual skill in interpreting nonverbal messages was also not supported by this investigation. The hypothesis suggesting that the individual's ethnic background may influence the capacity to interpret nonverbal messages was also not supported. However, the data provided us with information that audio and video channels are useful mediums for the interpretation of nonverbal messages. Although the data did not reach significant levels in regard to ethnic group differences in nonverbal interpretation, the Caucasian and Hispanic groups' interpretation of the emotional content of the messages showed higher and more consistent scores than those of the Black group. From this investigation, there appear to be some trends to support the hypothesis that how subjects respond to the nuances of nonverbal messages is related to the model presenting the stimulus, and their similar cultural experiences.;This investigation concluded with the discussion of issues related to the implications of the study.