RELATIONAL MESSAGES ASSOCIATED WITH NONVERBAL BEHAVIORS

Authors

  • JUDEE K. BURGOON,

    1. Judee K. Burgoon (Ed. D., West Virginia University, 1974) is professor of speech communication at the University of Arizona, Tucson.
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  • DAVID B. BULLER,

    1. David B. Buller (M.A. Auburn University, 1980) is a doctoral student in communication at Michigan State, University.
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  • JEROLD L. HALE,

    1. Jerold L. Hale (Ph.D., Michigan State University, 1983) is acting assistant professor of speech at the University of Hawaii. Manoa
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  • MARK A. de TURCK

    1. Murk A. de Turck (M.A. Michigan State University, 1982) is assistant professor of communication at Cornell University. The authors wish to express their appreciation to Sally Blomstrom, Randy Koper, Yvonne Danjuma. Susan Flynn, Idonas Hughes and Kathy Jenuwine for their invaluable assistance on this project
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Abstract

Based on the assumptions that relational messages are multidimensional and that they are frequently communicated by nonverbal cues, this experiment manipulated five nonverbal cues -eye contact, proximity, body lean, smiling, and touch - to determine what meanings they convey along four relational message dimensions. Subjects (N= 150) observed 2 out of 40 videotaped conversational segments in which a male-female dyad presented various combinations of the nonverbal cues. High eye contact, close proximity, forward body lean, and smiling all conveyed greater intimacy, attraction, and trust. Low eye contact, a distal position, backward body lean, and the absence of smiling and touch communicated greater detachment. High eye contact, close proximity, and smiling also communicated less emotional arousal and greater composure, while high eye contact and close proximity alone conveyed greater dominance and control. Effects of combinations of cues and sex-differences are also reported.

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