Discrepant Verbal-Nonverbal Profile Theory: Making Sense of Contradicting Messages in Interpersonal Communication

Tsfira Grebelsky-Lichtman*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


This chapter presents a novel discrepant verbal/nonverbal profile (DVNP) theory that assesses verbal and nonverbal modes of communication and their interrelatedness. Discrepant communication is conceptualized as an inconsistency or contradiction between verbal and nonverbal communications, which is a central assertion in interpersonal communication. The DVNP framework focuses on two main features of interpersonal communication - expressiveness and responsiveness - that are mediated by the communication context. Expressiveness involves sending and displaying verbal/nonverbal various types of discrepant messages. Responsiveness involves responding to the expressive discrepant message, which affects nonverbal primacy, verbal primacy, and a unique reciprocal pattern of discrepancy. Moreover, the DVNP theory delineates social and situational contexts that activate the expression and responses to verbal-nonverbal discrepancy, including: emotional availability, conflictual and multiple goals situations, need for achievement, coping with difficulty, multimodal competence gap, and modeling communication. In this chapter, Grebelsky-Lichtman discusses the wide range of DVNP’s theoretical and practical applications, and provides avenues for future research in a variety of interpersonal communications as well as in media studies. Furthermore, this chapter contributes applied practical implications of verbal-nonverbal discrepancy. The DVNP theory advances composite theoretical accounts into a set of conclusions for verbal/nonverbal inter-relationships that are the key for improving the quality of interpersonal communication.

Original languageAmerican English
Title of host publicationEngaging Theories in Interpersonal Communication
Subtitle of host publicationMultiple Perspectives, 3rd Edition
PublisherTaylor and Francis
Number of pages15
ISBN (Electronic)9781000457018
ISBN (Print)9780367425296
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2021

Bibliographical note

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© 2022 Taylor & Francis.


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