SRU professor discusses how face masks affect interpersonal communication
The use of face masks to prevent the spread of the coronavirus has affected people’s nonverbal communication, according to Emily Dolan, a Slippery Rock University assistant professor of communication, who was recently interviewed by the Butler Radio Network.
May 20, 2020
SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. — Emily Dolan, a Slippery Rock University assistant professor of communication, was recently interviewed by WISR-AM, a news talk radio station in Butler, about how the use of face masks has affected interpersonal and nonverbal communication.
Dolan explained how wearing face masks to prevent the spread of the coronavirus has inhibited communication but also how it emphasizes other ways people communicate nonverbally.
"Our nonverbals are limited because masks cover more than half of our faces, and we are making up for that in other ways," Dolan said, referring to eye contact and the ways people express themselves with the cloth patterns of the masks they choose.
"Nonverbal communication is a highly influential source of meaning," Dolan said. "We have words we say but we have nonverbal behaviors that accompany those words like facial expressions, gestures, eye contact and the quality of our voice, and when we interact with others we take the verbal and nonverbal aspects (...) to derive some form of meaning. The majority of the meaning that we get (from communicating) comes from our nonverbals."
Dolan teaches and researches in the areas of persuasion, interpersonal communication and communication theory at SRU. Her research is centered on message processing with an emphasis on the effects of interpersonal and mass mediated messages on affective intrapersonal processes.
Tracey Morgan, host of the Extended Noon News, conducted the interview. To listen to the complete interview, visit a podcast link to the segment on the WISR website.
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