Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)




This study was designed to investigate the nonverbal cues exhibited by participants in informal and task-oriented groups. The following hypotheses were examined: 1) Leaders exhibit significantly more nonverbal cues than do nonleaders in task-oriented and informal small groups; 2) Members of a task-oriented small group will exhibit significantly more nonverbal cues than members of the informal small group; 3) An interaction effect will occur with leaders of the task- oriented groups exhibiting significantly more nonverbal cues than leaders of the informal groups.

Subjects for this study were fifty undergraduate students enrolled in Speech Pathology and Audio! jgy 232 at the University of North Dakota. Volunteers from the class were randomly placed into ten discussion groups consisting of five members each. Five of the groups were designated as task-oriented small groups and five were designated as informal small groups. The type of group was determined by random selection. The topic for the informal group was chosen spontaneously by each individual group. The task-oriented groups were given a specific question and were directed to arrive at a consensus within the one hour. Following each group discussion, a questionnaire xthich elicited pertinent answers to questions regarding roles of individuals within each group was administered.

Each discussion session was videotaped during predetermined intervals for later analysis. The videotapes then were shown to a group of observers who were asked to record the occurrences of four types of nonverbal behaviors: 1) Head; 2) Face; 31 Postural shift; and 4) gesticulation. These data, along with the information obtained from the group participants, were then analyzed to test the three experimental hypotheses.

The first hypothesis was supported in the instance of head agreement. Leaders did exhibit significantly more head agreement. However, there was no support in the other nonverbal categories. When examining the correlation coefficients, support was provided by the significant correlation between perceived leader and head agreement.

Support for the second hypothesis came from the nonverbal cue of facial disagreement. The results showed that a significant difference existed between task-oriented and informal groups when examining facial disagreement. The task-oriented group members exhibited more facial disagreement than did the informal group members. No support was evident in the other categories.

Hypothesis three was supported by the findings for head agreement and gesticulation from shoulder, arm and wrist. When examining those two categories, j.t was noted that there was an interaction effect between the task-oriented and informal groups. Leaders exhibited mere head agreement and gesticulation than did nonleaders, with leaders of the task-oriented group exceeding all other conditions. There was no support in the remaining categories.