Sociology, Department of


Date of this Version



Published in Psychology of Women Quarterly 12 (1988), pp. 147-163. Published by Cambridge University Press. Used by permission.


Nonverbal behaviors of Hispanic elementary school students and their peers were examined in a small-group cooperative task with a total of 202 subjects. Thirty-five randomly selected groups were videotaped in ten desegregated schools, each group was gender-homogeneous, with three Hispanic and three Anglo students. Analysis of the videotapes revealed that Hispanic females used less vertical and horizontal space than Anglo females, and were also less likely to verbally interrupt or physically intrude on other group members They had similar rates of handling the group resource cards and were given similar leadership scores by multi-ethnic trained observers. Among males, Hispanics are significantly more likely to use vertical or upward movements and physical intrusions, while Anglos use more verbal interruptions.

School and social status factors such as high- and low-equity desegregated school programs, ethnic and gender status, and school status variables of academic grades and English word knowledge had varying effects on teacher and peer ratings of leadership. High-equity schools garnered higher leadership scores for Hispanic females from both peers and teachers when all other nonverbal behaviors were controlled. This positive effect of the school on leadership ratings was evident only for males. In teacher ratings Hispanic females and their peers do reflect adult models of nonverbal behavior and leadership, and that leadership is enhanced in the perceptions of teachers and peers when they participate In a high-equity desegregated elementary school.