Nonstraightforwardness – an exploration

Recent research has suggested that issuing vague or equivocal public statements can sometimes be advisable for a corporation undergoing a crisis. But previous academic work had also studied a broadly similar concept, called ‘Nonstraightforwardness’. A team of investigators lead by Susan Kline (Associate Professor and Associate Director for Undergraduate Studies at The Ohio State University) conducted two experiments to elucidate its effects. The experiments (#1 in particular) showed that :

“As predicted, equivocal messages were both viewed as appropriate messages to use and associated with two measures of corporate reputation in avoidance-avoidance situations.”

“By contrast, nonequivocal messages were viewed as more appropriate to use and associated with corporate reputation in non—avoidance-avoidance situations.”

(* see note below)

Non-subscribers to the journal Communication Research, which (“…takes you to the cutting-edge of research and theory in all areas within the field of communication.”) may purchase the article for US$25.00

Understanding the Effects of Nonstraightforward Communication in Organizational Discourse. The Case of Equivocal Messages and Corporate Identity

Non-subscribers to the journal Communication Research may also not purchase a very similar article here :


• Improbable attempt at clarification #1
Those who receive communications may sometimes get the impression that the communicator is, in reality, trying to avoid saying something. If the communicator is aware of this, he/she may feel that a better approach would be to avoid being seen as avoiding something – and thus they take the avoidance-avoidance route. In other words, a straightforward communication may be more beneficial. Conversely, if a communicator chooses instead to stick to a non-straightforward path then this can be seen as a non-avoidance-avoidance methodology.

Improbable attempt at clarification #2
Sometimes it’s best to tell things the way they are – sometimes it’s not.

“Avoidance-Avoidance Goal Conflict Theory” was first described by Lewin, K. (1938) in ‘The conceptual representation and measurement of psychological forces.’ Contributions to Psychological Theory, 1, (serial no. 4). Professor Lewin also created the concept of “Vector Psychology” which pointed out that psychological “forces” and “force fields” don’t really have “directions” in the Euclidian sense. In other words they can’t be pinpointed in 3-D space. Or found on a map.

“Direction in psychology cannot be defined as physical direction and cannot be determined by Euclidian geometry. A geometry applicable in psychology is that of hodological space.”

The professor was also noted for his single-handed development of
Hodological psychology. And Genidentity.

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