Document Type

Thesis

Degree

Master of Arts

Major

Communication

Date of Defense

4-18-2008

Graduate Advisor

Alan D. Heisel, Ed.D.

Committee

Alan Heisel

Yan Tian

Amber Reinhart

Abstract

Individual differences in thresholds for affectionate communication should be reflected by differences in neurological structure and function. A theoretical schema from several overlapping literatures including evolutionary psychology, social neuroscience, fundamental personality, and communication are examined to make the case that high-affection communicators have greater relative electrical activity in the left prefrontal cortex (PFC) versus the right PFC reflected in asymmetrical baseline EEG recordings. Participants (N=16) reported trait-affection levels using Floyd?s (2002) TAS-G, which measures an individual?s threshold for expressing affection. Participants? baseline electrical activity was then recorded. Asymmetry was operationalized as the difference between microvolt (μV) values of laterally opposed electrode clusters thought to measure PFC activity. Correlations and a discriminant analysis are consistent with the hypothesis that high-affection communicators have greater relative left PFC activity than less affectionate communicators. Using this sample, data indicate that sex also covaries with asymmetrical processing. Possibilities for further investigation and weaknesses of the current study are discussed in detail.

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