Environmental psychology and nonverbal behavior

, Volume 2, Issue 2, pp 100-108

First online:

Tactile relationships in the subway as affected by racial, sexual, and crowded seating situations

  • David R. MainesAffiliated withYale University

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Observations of touching behavior were made on New York City's IRT subway line to determine whether homogeneous behavioral patterns exist in the subway. Direct observations of race, sex, and crowding on subway car benches were made. These factors were coded as variables that might affect touching among strangers. The data indicated the presence of tactile avoidance behavior in crowded situations, but statistical significance was achieved only in the case of racial and sexual heterogeneous relationships. The data support Leichty's hypothesis (1975) concerning the existence and operation of universes of touch. The demonstration of patterned interaction challenges the view of subways as environments of heterogeniety.