Predictions concerning the formation of impressions on the visual of the visual behaviour of an observed person are tested in two experiments.

Observers were shown a video recording of a conversation between two persons in which person (A) looked at his partner (B) or not depending upon the experimental conditions. In addition, the observers were told whether or not the persons were acquainted with one another before this conversation.

It was found, as predicted, that a was rated higher with regard to friendliness und openness if he looked at his conversation partner. Equally in agreement with prediction it was found that the significance of visual behaviour for the formation of impressions is greater if it is known that the observed persons are well acquainted. Ratings of A's dominance and activity are only dependent on the visual behaviour shown if it is known that the observed persons know eath other. In the case in which the partners are not acquainted, there is no such effect.

These results show that the communicative function of visual behaviour over and above the ascription of friendliness and openness is increased if contextual information is given concerning the interpersonal relationship between the persons observed. The formation of impressions concerning the second person involved in the conversation is not influenced by the visual behaviour of his conversation partner.