Verbal and nonverbal components in assertive training

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Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

Nonassertive subjects were exposed to one of three treatment conditions designed to isolate the verbal and the nonverbal components of assertive behavior and were videotaped while responding to a series of stimulus situations. The treatments focused on verbal factors alone, nonverbal factors alone, or a combination of both verbal and nonverbal factors. Experimental subjects and subjects in Test-Retest and Practice control groups were rated by three judges on eight specific behaviors (e.g., Eye Contact, Facial Expression, Body Language, Voice Qualities, Being Specific, Requesting New Behavior, Staying on the Point, and Giving In). Eye Contact, a nonverbal variable, was the only measure found to evidence a differential effect of treatment: subjects trained on nonverbal factors alone improved significantly in Eye Contact relative to subjects in the verbal and combined treatment conditions. Possible explanations for the otherwise insignificant effects of treatment and several methodological problems were discussed.