Journal of Nonverbal Behavior

, Volume 16, Issue 1, pp 55–63 | Cite as

Relationship and touch in public settings

  • Frank N. WillisJr.
  • Leon F. Briggs


Gender differences in touch in U.S. populations have been well demonstrated. The age of participants and the setting in which touch occurs have been shown to affect the gender differences. Some investigators have concluded that a gender asymmetry exists with men touching women more than women touch men. A number of studies have shown that men and women interpret touch differently. Past research has provided little information about the effect of the relationship between a couple and the meaning of their touch. In the present study touch initiation among couples was observed in a variety of public settings and then the couples were asked to identify their relationship. It was found that men were more likely to initiate touch during courtship and women were more likely to initiate touch after marriage. A sex difference in reproductive strategies was suggested as one explanation for the phenomenon.


Gender Difference Social Psychology Past Research Reproductive Strategy Public Setting 
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Copyright information

© Human Sciences Press, Inc 1992

Authors and Affiliations

  • Frank N. WillisJr.
    • 1
  • Leon F. Briggs
    • 1
  1. 1.Psychology DepartmentUniversity of Missouri-K.C.Kansas City

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