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The Study of Gender Difference in Attitude Toward Rapport-Talk

The Study of Gender Difference in Attitude toward Rapport-talk Yuan Long East Tennessee State University Abstract In this paper, the gender difference in attitude toward rapport-talk was discussed. According to previously existent academic resources, a phenomenon could be concluded as follow: generally, women interest in rapport-talk while men interest in report-talk. Focusing on rapport-talk, my hypothesis is that women’s interest toward rapport-talk is greater than men’s interest toward rapport-talk. 40 participants were randomly selected locally in Tri-city. 0 of them were female, and 20 of them were male. Each of them did a survey which contained 4 statements employed with 7 point-response format anchored by strongly disagree and strongly agree. Through collecting and analyzing the data, the result proved the hypothesis, namely, there is gender difference in attitude toward rapport-talk. The limitations and implications were also discussed in this paper. Keyword: rapport-talk, gender difference, communication style. The Study of Gender Difference in Attitude toward Rapport-talk

Gender difference in communication has been an issue discussed fervently for several years. In recent researches about communication on the basis of gender difference, there are plenty of discuss of conversational styles. Tannen (1990) who believes that men and women have different conversational styles, first proposes the terms rapport-talk and report-talk. Tannen (1990) explains these two terms as follow: For most women, the language of conversation is primarily a language of rapport: a way of establishing connections and negotiating relationships.

Emphasis is placed on displaying similarities and matching experiences. For most men, talk is primarily a means to preserve independence and negotiate and maintain status in a hierarchical social order. (p. 77) To compare men and women’s different conversational styles, Barletta (2010) states as follow: “When men communicate they’re concerned with conveying information and establishing status. When women communicate they’re concerned with conveying information and building connections” (p. 2). In addition, Wood (2008) points out that language define women and men differently: “women are frequently defined by ppearance or by relationships with others, whereas men are more typically defined by activities, accomplishments, or positions” (p. 119). Moreover, Mechelen (1991) indicates that “among themselves, women perceive questions as being a deferential and undemanding way to let the other person know what they’re thinking and give the opportunity to agree or disagree without losing face” (p. 1). Take a panoramic view of these existing academic resources, all researchers illustrate that men and women have different conversational styles through explaining women’s preference to rapport-talk and men’s preference to report-talk.

Therefore, I predicted that women’s interest toward rapport-talk is greater than men’s. The two dependent variables are women’s interest toward rapport-talk and men’s interest toward rapport-talk. The main purpose of this research is verifying whether women interest in rapport-talk more than men do. Method Participants Forty participants were selected randomly in the area of Tri-city. The average age of all participants was 29. 4. 20 of them were females, 20 of them were males. Female subjects and male subjects’ average age are 25. 4 and 33. 4 respectively (Table 7). 5 of them were domestic students of ETSU, 8 of them were employees of Eastman Chemical Company, 4 of them were international students of ETSU, and 3 of them were staffs of ETSU. Procedure Firstly, I randomly selected subjects on ETSU campus such as Culp-center, Sherrod library, and computer lab. All of these subjects were agreeable to do the survey. Secondly, I went to Johnson City Mall and also randomly selected subjects in order to diversify subjects’ occupation and age. However, due to some unknown reasons, maybe to protect personal information, all of these subjects kindly refused my request of doing the survey.

Thirdly, I asked one of my friends who works in Eastman Chemical Company to let his colleagues do the survey. Then, my friend collected the data of these employees who agreed to do the survey and gave back to me. Thus, subjects’ occupation and age could be varied. However, all of these subjects were middle-aged males. Fourthly, I selected several ETSU female staffs to do the survey in order to balance the average age of males and females. Finally, I chose some of my friends who are international students to do the survey. Also, all of them agreed my request.

Instrumentation In this research, the independent variable is sex, and the dependent variables are women’s interest toward rapport-talk and men’s interest toward rapport-talk. I use a survey for measurement. (See in Appendix A) In the survey, there are four statements as follow: 1. I am interested in establishing connections in a conversation. 2. I am interested in negotiating relationships in a conversation. 3. I am interested in displaying similarities in a conversation. 4. I am interested in discussing matched experiences in a conversation.

Under each statement, there is a 7-point response format anchored by strongly disagree and strongly agree. As Tannen (1990) explains that “for most women, the language of conversation is primarily a language of rapport: a way of establishing connections and negotiating relationships. Emphasis is placed on displaying similarities and matching experiences” (p. 77), there are four significant points of rapport-talk. They are establishing connections, negotiating relationships, displaying similarities and matching experiences.

Therefore, I listed the four statements based on the explanation of Tannen (1990) who first proposed rapport-talk in order to ensure subjects could understand rapport-talk as well as possible. Accordingly, the reliability and validity could be guaranteed to a very great extent. Results According to the survey, relevant statistics were collected and calculated. 1 and 2 represent female and male respectively. The mean and median of women’s interest toward rapport-talk are 5. 3 and 5. 25 respectively. The mean, median of men’s interest toward rapport-talk are 4. 5 and 4 respectively (Table 1). The range and standard deviation of women’s interest toward rapport-talk are 3 and 0. 91 respectively. The range and standard deviation of men’s interest toward rapport-talk are 6 and 1. 86 respectively (Table 1). The frequencies of women’s and men’s interest toward rapport-talk are presented in Table 2, Table 3 and Table 4. In t-test, the t is 2. 707 which little greater than 2. 365 (Table 6). Discussion The mean of women’s interest toward rapport-talk is 5. 3 which 1. 25 bigger than the mean of men’s interest toward rapport-talk.

This data shows the gender difference in attitude toward rapport-talk that women interest in rapport-talk than men do in general. The range of women’s interest toward rapport-talk is 3 which half of the range of men’s interest toward rapport-talk. The standard deviation of women’s interest toward rapport-talk is 0. 91 which 0. 95 less than the standard deviation of men’s interest toward rapport-talk. This couple of differences between women and men shows that the tendency of women’s interest toward rapport-talk is more stable than men’s interest toward rapport-talk.

In the t-test, the t is 2. 707 which 0. 342 greater than CV 2. 365. This data shows the fact that the non hypothesis was rejected. In other words, this data provides moderate support to my hypothesis which is women’s interest toward rapport-talk is greater than men’s interest toward rapport-talk. Due to some reasons such as time and territorial restriction, there are several limitations in the research. Primarily, although I have tried to diversify subjects, most of them were ETSU students whose age range from 19 to 25. Therefore, the generalizablility was diminished.

In addition, females’ average age is far less than males’. Thus, the comparison between female subjects and male subjects was not scientific enough to some extent. Furthermore, all subjects were selected locally. Accordingly, the data and results were restricted to the area of Tri-city. Finally, some of the data might not reflect the truth in real life because it is possible that some subjects intentionally or unconsciously distorted the fact of their attitude toward rapport-talk. As the result showed, women interest in rapport-talk more than men do.

In further research, the territorial restriction should be taken seriously and eliminated farthest. It would remind people that it is necessary to pay attention to conversation styles especially in cross-sex communication. Therefore, with the prediction of gender difference in attitude toward rapport-talk, the cross-sex conversation could be optimized to some extent. References Tannen, D. (1990). You just don’t understand: Women and men in conversation. New York: William Morrow. Clark, N. (Interviewer) ; Barletta, M. (Interviewee). (2010). Differences Between Men and Women: An Interview with

Martha Barletta [Interview transcript]. Retrieved from Womens Media Web site: http://www. womensmedia. com/work/207-differences-between-men-and-women-an-interview-with-martha-barletta. html Howden, J. C. (1994). Competitive and Collaborative Communicative Style: American Men and Women, American Men and Japanese Men. Retrieved From http://www. trinity. edu/org/ics/ICS%20Issues/04%20ICS%20IV%201/Microsoft%20Word%20-%20p%2049%20Howden. pdf Mechelen, R. V. (1992). Communication. What Every Man Should Know About Feminist Issues. Retrieved from http://www. backlash. com/book/comm. html