Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type



Communication and Information Studies



First Advisor

Dr. Laura Stafford


The following study used politeness theory to explore the impact of simultaneously engaging in a face to face conversation and a text message conversation. Specifically the study used Brown and Levinson’s (1978, 1987) five original politeness strategies to see whether strategy choice (in the face to face conversation) impacts the face threat present in engaging in multiple conversations. Multivariate analysis of covariance was used to understand the impact different politeness strategies had on the following variables: conversational appropriateness, relational/social appropriateness, immediacy, attentiveness, and politeness. Findings show that when a face to face partner ignores (no verbal/nonverbal politeness) a text message interruption the partner is seen as more relational/socially appropriate, immediate, attentive, and polite. Findings also indicate that aside from ignoring the text message, politeness messages that acknowledge the text message interruption and offer a relevant verbal message are viewed as more relationally/socially appropriate, immediate, attentive, and polite than those that indirectly deal with the text interruption. This study partially supports the popular belief that texting in the presence of others violates face to face conversational expectations and is perceived as “rude.” However, future studies need to look at the role and influence mediated conversational expectations play in overall conversational expectations.

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