The relationships among sex, gender, and verbal immediacy in the college classroom



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Texas Tech University


In the past twenty years, immediacy has received a good deal of attention in the communication studies literature (Christophel, 1990; Christophel, & Gorham, 1995; Frymier, 1994; Frymier & Shulman, 1995; Gorham, 1988; Gorham & Zakahi, 1990; Jensen, 1995; Menzel & Carroll, 1999; Moore, Masterson, Christophel, & Shea, 1996; Sanders & Wiseman, 1990). Mehrabian (1966, 1967a, 1967b, 1971) originally developed the idea of immediacy. Immediacy refers to "the degree of directness and intensity of interaction between a communicator and the object of communication" (Mehrabian, 1967a, p. 414). Mehrabian (1971) defines immediacy as a construct that allows people to reduce the psychological distance that might exist between them. Mehrabian (1971) stated that liking and immediacy are basically "two sides of the same coin" and that "liking encourages greater immediacy and immediacy produces more liking" (p. 77). Immediacy is based "on an approach-avoidance theory and is an affect-based construct" (Christophel, 1990, p. 325). This statement demonstrates that immediacy is the closeness or distance between one person and another. Moreover, Mehrabian illustrates that people are drawn to other people they like and find acceptable (Frymier & Shulamn, 1995) .