Varieties of touching in greetings: Sequential structure and sex-related differences

Abstract

The functional significance of structural and sex-related differences in greeting behavior was analyzed through systematic observation of naturally-occurring contact-greetings. Ss were 152 greeting dyads, composed of airline travelers and their greeters. Greeting sequences were found to contain one or more of seven discrete types of behavioral components. Type of greeting varied with location in sequence and sex-composition of dyad. The handshake, mutual-lip-kiss, and face-kiss occurred early in greeting sequences, whereas hand-to-upper-body was the characteristic terminating act. Male-male dyads typically engaged in a brief, mutual handshake. In contrast, female-female and cross-sex dyads displayed relatively longer contacts, composed of mutual-lip-kisses, mutual-face-contacts, embraces, and hand-to-upper-body touches.

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Correspondence to Dr. Paul E. Greenbaum.

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The authors would like to thank Susan Greenbaum and Neil Salkind for their comments on an earlier draft of this paper, and Joe Lucke for his assistance in the data analysis.

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Greenbaum, P.E., Rosenfeld, H.M. Varieties of touching in greetings: Sequential structure and sex-related differences. J Nonverbal Behav 5, 13–25 (1980). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00987051

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Keywords

  • Social Psychology
  • Functional Significance
  • Systematic Observation
  • Sequential Structure
  • Behavioral Component