Communicating Intentions Through Nonverbal Behaviors Conscious and Nonconscious Encoding of Liking



The fundamental components of interpersonal transactions at the nonverbal level often include the cognitively held intention of one person to increase or decrease affiliation with his or her partner, the encoding of this intention into behavioral displays, and the decoding of the behavioral displays by the other. Nonverbal encoding of relational information may be conducted at less than conscious levels of information processing although intentions may be held consciously. A study was conducted in which naive confederates were induced to either increase or decrease their displays of liking for their partner. It was found that confederates’intentions to show increased or decreased liking toward their partners were positively correlated with the partners’liking for the confederate. However, less than one quarter of the confederates could demonstrate an accurate conscious awareness of the behaviors they used and how they used them. Of this small number, those who were given the conscious intention of showing decreased liking demonstrated the most conscious awareness of their nonverbal behaviors.