Nonverbal behaviors and social evaluation1


  • 1

    This research was in part supported by National Science Foundation Grant GS-3127A1 to D. W. Fiske and by National Science Foundation Grant GS-3033A1 to Starkey Duncan, Jr. We are indebted to Susan T. Fiske for her valuable comments on an earlier draft of this paper.

  • This article contains results presented in a paper given at the Annual Convention of the American Psychological Association, Toronto, Ontario, August 1978. It is based on the dissertation of the senior author done under the direction of the junior author. Requests for reprints should be sent to Patrick E. Shrout, who is now at the Division of Biostatistics, School of Public Health, Columbia University, 600 West 168 Street, New York, N.Y. 10032.


Male and female observers watched videotapes of short interactions between previously unacquainted dyads of one sex or the other and then rated one target. An evaluation measure derived from the ratings was positively correlated with a majority of the diverse nonverbal behaviors coded from the videotapes. The significant correlations were all positive and all but one involved social behaviors directed toward the other person. In a multiple regression analysis, nod rate, short vocal back-channel rate, smile time, filled pause rate, and gaze time were sufficient to predict evaluations by either sex. Although no overall effects were found for sex of target, weights for behaviors varied with sex of observer in the second root of a canonical correlation analysis. Consistent with the findings of others, the amount of nonverbal activity, especially socially oriented activity, is related to favorableness of observers' evaluative impressions. The contribution of some behaviors varies with the sex of the observer.