Communication, the act of sending and receiving messages, is among the most discussed topics. Accordingly, communication studies which are often interested in how audiences interpret messages and how context affects their interpretation have drawn the attention of many researchers. One branch of communication studies is communication style studies which mainly focuses on the ‘metamessages’ in communication. Considering lack of research in this field in Persian and drawing upon Tannen’s conversational style theory (1984), this study aims at investigating the degree of directness/indirectness in Persian and the Iranian’s individual-level factors, which influence the choice of directness/indirectness and reveal the functions of them, by focusing on the advice giving speech act as a comparable unit of discourse. To this end, the data collected through a multiple choice discourse completion test (DCT) developed and designed by the researcher were analyzed. The results indicated that except for gender other variables as age, status, and social distance of the interlocutors had significant effects on the linguistic choices of the participants and accordingly on their directness score. Additionally, the findings made it clear that when one of the interlocutors is a younger, an intimate or an equal status person, Iranians often adopt directness in giving advice. However, when the addresser is higher status or older, speakers appeared to be indirect (and/or silent) in reaction to a wrong act. The results of the open ended part of the questionnaire revealed seventeen motivational values for adapting a specific style in different situations of the questionnaire. Also, the results showed that the distribution of value orientations and self- construals were situation based as well, however, the collectivistic values and interdependent self- construals were dominant. From the interaction of linguistic choices and individual-level factors in each situation, it was concluded that Tannen’s conversational style theory is very efficient in justifying the functions of indirectness in Persian.
Keywords: Communication style; Conversational style theory; Metamessages; Indirectness; Advice giving; Linguistic choices; Individual values; Self-construals