A Functional Assessment Of Heterosocial Initiation Behaviors In Adults (Social Competence, Effectiveness, External Validity).

Thomas Michael Dilorenzo


The purpose of the present investigation was to incorporate the extant literature in the area of social competence in an attempt to assess the relationship between empirically defined classes of behavior or strategies and ratings of effectiveness, liking, and skill with adults. Female subjects were asked to listen to and rate audiotapes of dyadic interactions of males and females. The dyads' verbal behavior had been manipulated experimentally such that each "actor" exhibited one of two strategies in each audiotaped interaction. The male actor exhibited either an "other enhancement" or a "positive self presentation" intiation strategy. The female actor either encouraged of discouraged the male actor's initiations (i.e., an externally imposed criterion response of effectiveness). Audiotapes were presented in both Latin square and between groups designs. At the end of each audiotaped interaction, subjects were asked to rate each male on five questions indicating liking, continued interaction, effectiveness, social skill, and similarity. Upon completion of the tapes and ratings, subjects were asked to choose one male with whom they would interact with at that time. The other males were then rank ordered in terms of preference. The results indicated that the subjects were able to distinguish between the effective and ineffective strategies. Data obtained from all other questions indicated that the subjects would prefer the male who had been encouraged irrespective of what strategy he used. Finally, 35 out of 40 subjects picked the male to interact with who had also been the most preferred male on prior ratings. This study involved the analysis of relevant variables within an interactional framework allowing for a functional rather than topographic analysis of social behavior. From this functional perspective, topographically different heterosocial initiation strategies may be viewed as appropriate or effective in a specific situation based on the evaluation made by the other person in an interaction. In addition, a positive correspondence between ratings of future behavior and actual performance had been shown.