Looking, laughing, and smiling in dyads as a function of intimacy motivation and reciprocity


  • The authors would like to thank the following interviewers, coders, and technical assistants: Don Allen, Kathy Farrell, Joan Hong, Michelle Koslowski, Randy Schoen-stedt, Mary Smith, Gary Sookikan, and Jeff Wilbert.

Requests for reprints should be sent to Dan P. McAdams, Department of Psychology, Loyola University of Chicago, 6525 N. Sheridan Road, Chicago, IL 60626.


Eighty college students (40 females and 40 males) were administered the Thematic Apperception Test (TAT) and interviewed in either a one-way (interviewer asks questions) or reciprocal (interviewer asks questions and discloses information about him- or herself) condition by a same-sex interviewer. The TATs were scored for intimacy motivation. In this 2 (Female vs. Male) × 2 (High vs. Low Intimacy Motive) × 2 (Reciprocal vs. One-Way Condition) experiment, intimacy motivation was positively associated with greater levels of laughter, smiling, and eye contact for the entire sample, as hypothesized. Furthermore, women showed significantly higher scores than men on laughter, smiling, and eye contact. Contrary to a second hypothesis, high intimacy motivation combined with reciprocal condition did not yield the highest levels of laughter, smiling, and eye contact. The results extend the construct validation literature for intimacy motivation into the domain of nonverbal behaviors considered to be indicative of positive interpersonal regard in cordial human interactions.