Springer Nature is making Coronavirus research free. View research | View latest news | Sign up for updates

The development and nature of the construct touch avoidance

  • 403 Accesses

  • 55 Citations


Development of two touch-avoidance measures via factor analysis are reported. Touch avoidance is a nonverbal communication predisposition that consists of two dimensions, same-sex touch avoidance and opposite-sex touch avoidance. The results are replicated across two distinct samples with consistent reliability of measurement. Touch avoidance is then related to communication apprehension, self-disclosure, self-esteem, and a series of cultural role variables. The cultural role variables seem to have the greatest relationship with the two measures of touch avoidance. A program for future research on touch avoidance is also discussed.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.


  1. Aguilera, D. C. Relationship between physical contact and verbal interaction between nurses and patients.Journal of Psychiatric Nursing, 1967,5, 5–22.

  2. Aiello, J. C., & Aiello, T. D. The development of personal space: Proxemic behavior of children 6 through 16.Human Ecology, 1974,2, 177–189.

  3. Berger, E. M. The relation between expressed acceptance of self and expressed acceptance of others.Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology, 1952,47, 778–782.

  4. Cronbach, L. J.Essentials of psychological resting. New York: Harper, 1949.

  5. Deutsch, M. The interpretation of praise and criticism as a function of their social contact.Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology, 1961,62, 391–400.

  6. Frank, L. K. Tactile communication.Genetic Psychology Monographs, 1957,56, 209–235.

  7. Goffman, E.Relations in public. New York: Harper & Row, 1971.

  8. Hall, E. T.The silent language. Greenwich, Conn.: Fawcett, 1959.

  9. Hall, E. T.The hidden dimension. New York: Doubleday, 1966.

  10. Jourard, S. M. An exploratory study of body-accessibility.British Journal of Social and clinical Psychology, 1966,5, 221–231.

  11. Jourard, S. M., & Rubin, J. E. Self-disclosure and touching: A study of two modes of interpersonal encounter and their interrelation.Journal of Humanistic Psychology, 1968,8, 39–48.

  12. Lieberman, M. A., Yalom, I. D., & Miles, M. B. Impact on participants. In L. N. Soloman & B. Berzon (Eds.),New perspectives on encounter groups. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 1972, pp. 119–134.

  13. MacCoby, E. E., & Jacklin, C. N.The psychology of sex differences. Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press, 1974.

  14. McCroskey, J. C. Measures of communication bound anxiety.Speech Monographs, 1970,37, 269–277.

  15. McCroskey, J. C. The effects of communication apprehension on nonverbal behavior.Communication Quarterly, 1976,24, 39–44.

  16. Mehrabian, A.Silent messages. Belmont, Calif.: Wadsworth, 1971.

  17. Montagu, A.Touching: The human significance of the skin. New York: Columbia University Press, 1971.

  18. Morris, D.Intimate behavior. New York: Random House, 1971.

  19. Nguyen, T., Heslin, R., & Nguyen, M. The meanings of touch: Sex differences.Journal of Communication, 1975,25, 92–103.

  20. Nunnally, J. C.Psychometric theory. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1967.

  21. Pace, R. W., & Boren, R. R.The human transaction. Glenview, III.: Scott, Foresman, 1973.

  22. Pattison, J. E. Effects of touch on self-exploration and the therapeutic relationship.Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 1973,40, 170–175.

  23. Preston, T. When words fail.American Journal of Nursing, 1973,73, 2064–2066.

  24. Scheflen, A.Body language and social order. Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 1972.

  25. Seashore, M., Leifer, A. D., Barnett, C. R., & Leiderman, P. H. The effects of denial of early mother-infant interaction on maternal self-confidence.Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 1973,26, 369–378.

  26. Silverman, A. F., Pressman, H. E., & Bartel, H. W. Self-esteem and tactile communication.Journal of Humanistic Psychology, 1973,13, 73–77.

  27. Thompson, J. J.Beyond words: Nonverbal communication in the classroom. New York: Citation Press, 1973.

  28. Watson, W. H. The meaning of touch: Geriatric nursing.Journal of Communication, 1975,25, 104–112.

  29. Wood, D. A.Test construction. Columbus, Ohio: Merrill, 1960.

Reference Notes

  1. McCroskey, J. C.The validity of the PRCA as an index of oral communication apprehension. Paper presented at the annual convention of the Speech Communication Association, Houston, 1975.

  2. Wheeless, L. R., & Grotz, J. The conceptualization and measurement of self-disclosure.Human Communication Research, in press.

  3. Fisher, J. D., Rytting, M., & Heslin, R. Hands touching hands: Affective and evaluative effects of an interpersonal touch.Sociometry, under editorial consideration.

  4. Wheeless, L. R., & Grotz, J.Self-disclosure and trust: Conceptualization, measurement, and interrelationships. Paper presented at the International Communication Association Convention, Chicago, 1975.

  5. McCroskey, J. C., & Richmond, V. P.Self-credibility as an index of self-esteem. Paper presented at the annual convention of the Speech Communication Association, Houston, 1975.

Download references

Author information

Correspondence to Peter A. Andersen.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Andersen, P.A., Leibowitz, K. The development and nature of the construct touch avoidance. J Nonverbal Behav 3, 89–106 (1978).

Download citation


  • Social Psychology
  • Nonverbal Communication
  • Distinct Sample
  • Role Variable
  • Cultural Role