A functional assessment of heterosocial initiation behaviors in adults

UMMS Affiliation

Department of Medicine, Division of Preventive and Behavioral Medicine



Document Type



Social Behavior


Behavioral Disciplines and Activities | Behavior and Behavior Mechanisms | Community Health and Preventive Medicine | Preventive Medicine


The present investigation was designed to assess the relationship between empirically defined behavioral strategies and ratings of social effectiveness, liking, and skill. Female subjects rated audiotapes of dyadic heterosocial interactions. The dyads'' verbal behavior was manipulated experimentally such that each male actor exhibited one of two strategies, other-enhancement and positive self-presentation, and each female coactor exhibited one of two responses, encourages and discourages. After each audiotaped interaction, subjects rated each male on five questions: liking, continued interaction, effectiveness, social skill, and similarity. The results indicated that subjects distinguished between effective and ineffective strategies. The data obtained from all questions indicated that subjects preferred the male who was encouraged irrespective of what strategy he used. This study analyzed relevant variables within an interactional framework allowing for a functional, rather than topographic, analysis of social behavior. From this functional perspective, topographically different heterosocial initiation strategies may be viewed as appropriate or effective based on the reactions of the other person in the interaction.

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Citation: DiLorenzo TM, Edelstein BA, Carr WT, Pbert L, Heiden L, Selby VC. A functional assessment of heterosocial initiation behaviors in adults. Journal of Psychopathology and Behavioral Assessment 1990;12(1):67-79. DOI: 10.1007/BF00960454


At the time of publication, Lori Pbert was not yet affiliated with the University of Massachusetts Medical School.