Keeping Control. The Importance of Nonverbal Expressions of Power by Organizational Spokespersons in Times of Crisis

Year of publication: 2014
Author(s): Claeys, A.S. & Cauberghe, V.
Appeared in: Journal of Communication, vol.: in press


This paper examines the impact of nonverbal expressions of power by organizational spokespersons during different crisis stages. Study one investigates how vocal nonverbal cues express power during crises and how this affects perceptions of spokespersons. The results illustrate that a spokesperson that speaks with a lowered voice pitch, which expresses power, appears more competent than one with a raised voice pitch. Study two examines the moderating influence of crisis stage on the impact of visual nonverbal cues. During a crisis, powerful nonverbal behaviors minimize reputational damage through an increase in perceived competence of the spokesperson. In the aftermath of a crisis, powerless nonverbal behaviors positively affect the organizational reputation through an intermediate effect on perceived sincerity of the spokesperson.

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