Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name


Organizational Unit

College of Arts Humanities and Social Sciences

First Advisor

Daniel N. McIntosh, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Iris Mauss

Third Advisor

Kateri McRae

Fourth Advisor

Maria Riva


Rapid display responses, Communication approaches, Communication goals


Two studies evaluated the communication approach to rapid display responses (RDRs) to others by 1) examining the influence of specific communicative goals on RDRs and, 2) identifying the social outcomes associated with correspondence between communicative goals and responses. Both studies showed that people in general can change the magnitude of their most rapid responses according to communication goals to either respond or suppress responses. For some stimulus-response pairs, the ability to flexibly deploy RDRs to align with goals is associated with positive social outcomes for those who are socially active. In Study 1, individual differences among socially active first-year college students' ability to flexibly deploy RDRs across communicative contexts predicted social adjustment. When the goal was to respond, those who were better at enhancing their smiling response to a smiling face reported better social adjustment compared to those who were not as successful at enhancing their smile. Study 2 showed that adults' ability to suppress fearful responses to angry displays was associated with better social adjustment in the wake of a stressful event. This ability was also associated with reduced depressive symptoms through its effect on social adjustment. As in Study 1, the relationship between RDR flexibility and social adjustment was especially strong for those who were socially active. These findings provide support for a communicative mechanism by which displays elicit RDRs and suggest that the ability to modify rapid responses to match communicative goals has consequences for longer-term social adjustment and even mental wellbeing.

Publication Statement

Copyright is held by the author. User is responsible for all copyright compliance.

Rights Holder

Betsy App


Received from ProQuest

File Format




File Size

73 p.


Behavioral sciences, Psychology