Journal of Nonverbal Behavior

, Volume 12, Issue 1, pp 6–33 | Cite as

A test among models of nonverbal immediacy reactions: Arousal-labeling, discrepancy-arousal, and social cognition

  • Brian P. O'Connor
  • Robert Gifford


Individuals may respond to an increase in nonverbal immediacy by either increasing or decreasing the immediacy of their own behavior. To account for this, a number of models have been proposed, including arousal-labeling (Patterson, 1976), discrepancy-arousal (Cappella & Greene, 1982), and social cognition (e.g., Ellsworth, 1978). An experiment was designed to test the social cognition approach and, when combined with findings of previous studies, to serve as a test among three models. Individual male subjects discussed a moral dilemma with a male confederate at a seating distance of either 1.1 m (control group) or 0.3 m in two experimental groups (confederate intentional-close and confederate forced-close). Subjects in both experimental conditions showed less immediate nonverbal behavior, but only subjects in the intentional-close condition evaluated the confederate more negatively than subjects in the control group. These results, when combined with past research findings, suggest that social cognition alone may determine whether nonverbal compensation or reciprocation will occur, and that arousal-based explanations may be unnecessary. Other self-report findings of the study, however, create difficulties for all three models of nonverbal exchange.


Social Psychology Research Finding Past Research Male Subject Social Cognition 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Abelson, R. P. (1981). Psychological status of the script concept.American Psychologist, 36, 715–729.Google Scholar
  2. Albert, S., & Dabbs, J. (1970). Physical distance and persuasion.Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 15, 265–270.Google Scholar
  3. Andersen, P. A. (1985). Nonverbal immediacy in interpersonal communication. In A. W. Siegman & S. Feldstein (Eds.),Multichannel integrations of nonverbal behavior. Hillsdale, New Jersey: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  4. Andersen, P. A. (1986). Consciousness, cognition, and communication.Western Journal of Speech Communication, 50, 87–101.Google Scholar
  5. Andersen, P. A., & Andersen, J. F. (1984). The exchange of nonverbal intimacy: A critical review of dyadic models.Journal of Nonverbal Behavior, 8, 327–349.Google Scholar
  6. Argyle, M. (1969).Social interaction. London: Methuen.Google Scholar
  7. Argyle, M., & Dean, J. (1965). Eye contact, distance, and affiliation.Sociometry, 28, 289–304.Google Scholar
  8. Argyle, M., & Ingham, R. (1972). Gaze, mutual gaze, and proximity.Semiotica, 6, 32–49.Google Scholar
  9. Bargh, J. A. (1984). Automatic and conscious processing of social information. In R. S. Wyer & T. K. Srull (Eds.),Handbook of social cognition (Vol. 3). Hillsdale, New Jersey: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  10. Benoit, P. J., & Benoit, W. L. (1986). Consciousness: The mindlessness/mindfulness distinction and verbal report controversies.Western Journal of Speech Communication, 50, 41–63.Google Scholar
  11. Berscheid, E., Graziano, W., Monson, T., & Dermer, M. (1976). Outcome dependency: Attention, attribution, and attraction.Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 34, 978–989.Google Scholar
  12. Breznitz, S. (1983).The denial of stress. New York: International Universities Press.Google Scholar
  13. Burgoon, J. (1983). Nonverbal violations of expectations. In J. Wiemann & R. Harrison (Eds.),Nonverbal interaction. London: Sage.Google Scholar
  14. Capella, J., & Greene, J. (1982). A discrepancy-arousal explanation of mutual influence in expressive behavior for adult and adult-infant interactions.Communication Monographs, 49, 89–114.Google Scholar
  15. Cappella, J. N., & Greene, J. O. (1984). The effects of distance and individual differences in arousability on nonverbal involvement: A test of the discrepancy-arousal model.Journal of Nonverbal Behavior, 8, 315–334.Google Scholar
  16. Carr, S., & Dabbs, J. (1974). The effects of lighting, distance, and intimacy of topic on verbal and visual behavior.Sociometry, 37, 592–600.Google Scholar
  17. Clark, M. S., & Isen, A. M. (1982). Toward understanding the relationship between feeling states and social behavior. In A. H. Hastorf (Ed.),Cognitive social psychology. New York: Elsevier.Google Scholar
  18. Coutts, L. M., & Schneider, F. W. (1975). Visual behavior in an unfocused interaction as a function of sex differences.Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 11, 64–77.Google Scholar
  19. Coutts, L. M., & Schneider, F. W., & Montgomery, S. (1980). An investigation of the arousal model of interpersonal intimacy.Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 16, 545–561.Google Scholar
  20. Dixon, N. F. (1981).Preconscious processing. New York: John Wiley.Google Scholar
  21. Ekman, P., & Freisen, W. (1972). Nonverbal behavior and psychopathology. In R. J. Friedman & M. M. Katz (Eds.),The psychology of depression. Washington, D C: U.S. Government Printing Office.Google Scholar
  22. Ellsworth, P. (1978). The meaningful look.Semiotica, 24, 341–351.Google Scholar
  23. Evans, G. W., & Howard, R. B. (1973). Personal space.Psychological Bulletin, 80, 334–344.Google Scholar
  24. Fisher, J. D. (1976). Situation-specific variables as determinants of perceived environmental aesthetic quality and perceived crowdedness.Journal of Research in Personality, 8, 177–188.Google Scholar
  25. Fisher, J. D., & Byrne, D. (1975). Too close for comfort: Sex differences in response to invasions of personal space.Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 32, 15–21.Google Scholar
  26. Goldberg, G., Kiesler, C., & Collins, B. (1969). Visual behavior and face to face distance during interaction.Sociometry, 32, 43–53.Google Scholar
  27. Greenberg, C., & Firestone, I. (1977). Compensatory reactions to crowding: Effects of personal space intrusion and privacy reduction.Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 35, 637–644.Google Scholar
  28. Grice, G. R. (1966). Dependence of empirical laws upon the source of experimental variation.Psychological Bulletin, 66, 488–498.Google Scholar
  29. Grossnickle, W., Loo, R., Martocci, T., Range, D., & Walters, F. (1975). Complexity of effects of interpersonal space.Psychological Reports, 36, 237–238.Google Scholar
  30. Gur, R. C., & Sackeim, H. A. (1979). Self-deception: A concept in search of a phenomenon.Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 37, 147–159.Google Scholar
  31. Hale, J. L., & Burgoon, J. K. (1984). Models of reactions to changes in nonverbal immediacy.Journal of Nonverbal Behavior, 8, 287–314.Google Scholar
  32. Harper, R. G., Weins, A. N., & Matarazzo, J. D. (1978).Nonverbal communication: The state of the art. New York: John Wiley.Google Scholar
  33. Hayduk, L. (1983). Personal space: Where we now stand.Psychological Bulletin, 94, 293–335.Google Scholar
  34. Heider, F. (1958).The psychology of interpersonal relations. New York: John Wiley.Google Scholar
  35. Hempel, C. G. (1966).Philosophy of natural science. Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Prentice Hall.Google Scholar
  36. Ickes, W., Patterson, M., Rajecki, D., & Tanford, S. (1982). Behavioral and cognitive consequences of reciprocation versus compensation responses to pre-interaction expectancies.Social Cognition, 1, 60–90.Google Scholar
  37. Jones, E. E., & Davis, K. (1965). From acts to dispositions: The attribution process in person perception. In L. Berkowitz (Ed.),Advances in experimental social psychology (Vol. 2). New York: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  38. Kahn, A., & McGaughey, T. (1977). Distance and liking: When moving close produces increased liking.Sociometry, 40, 138–144.Google Scholar
  39. Kelly, G. (1955). The psychology of personal constructs. New York: Norton.Google Scholar
  40. Kelley, H. (1967). Attribution in social psychology.Nebraska Symposium on Motivation, 15, 192–238.Google Scholar
  41. Kohlberg, L. (1964). Development of moral character and moral ideology. In M. Hoffman & W. Hoffman (Eds.),Review of child development research (Vol. 1). New York: Russell Sage.Google Scholar
  42. Lakatos, I. (1974). The role of crucial experiments in science.Studies in the History and Philosophy of Science, 4, 309–325.Google Scholar
  43. Langer, E. (1978). Rethinking the role of thought in social interaction. In J. H. Harvey, W. Ickes, & R. Kidd (Eds.),New directions in attribution research (Vol. 2). Hillsdale, N.J.: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  44. Lazarus, R. (1982). Thoughts on the relationship between cognition and affect.American Psychologist, 37, 1019–1024.Google Scholar
  45. Mandler, G. (1984).Mind and body. New York: Norton.Google Scholar
  46. Mehrabian, A. (1968). Inference of attributions from the posture, orientation, and distance of a communicator.Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 32, 296–308.Google Scholar
  47. McGuire, W. J. (1983). A contextualist theory of knowledge: Its implications for innovation and reform in psychological research. In L. Berkowitz, (Ed.),Advances in experimental social psychology (Vol. 16). New York: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  48. Molberg, A. N. (1977). The effects of interpersonal distance, physical attractiveness, and sex on impression formation.Dissertation Abstracts International, 6408b.Google Scholar
  49. Motley, M. (1986). Consciousness and intentionality in communication: A preliminary model and methodological approaches.Western Journal of Speech Communication, 50, 3–23.Google Scholar
  50. Murphy-Berman, V., & Berman, J. (1978). The implications of choice and sex in invasions of interpersonal space.Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 4, 424–428.Google Scholar
  51. Nisbett, R. E., & Wilson, T. D. (1977). Telling more than we know: Verbal reports on mental processes.Psychological Review, 84, 231–259.Google Scholar
  52. Patterson, M. (1968a).Social space and social interaction. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, Northwestern University.Google Scholar
  53. Patterson, M. (1968b). Spatial factors in social interactions.Human Relations, 21, 351–361.Google Scholar
  54. Patterson, M. (1976). An arousal model of interpersonal intimacy.Psychological Review, 83, 235–245.Google Scholar
  55. Patterson, M. (1978). Arousal change and cognitive labeling: Pursuing the mediators of intimacy exchange.Environmental Psychology and Nonverbal Behavior, 1, 17–22.Google Scholar
  56. Patterson, M. (1982). A sequential functional of nonverbal exchange.Psychological Review, 89, 231–249.Google Scholar
  57. Patterson, M. (1983a).Nonverbal behavior: A functional perspective. New York: Springer-Verlag.Google Scholar
  58. Patterson, M. (1983b). Theoretical approaches to nonverbal exchange: A brief historical perspective.Academic Psychology, 5, 375–388.Google Scholar
  59. Patterson, M., Jordan, A., Hogan, M., & Ferker, D. (1981). Effects of nonverbal intimacy on arousal and behavioral adjustment.Journal of Nonverbal Behavior, 5, 184–198.Google Scholar
  60. Patterson, M. L., & Powell, J. C. (1987).A test of the intimacy-arousal and functional models of nonverbal exchange. Unpublished manuscript, University of Missouri-St. Louis.Google Scholar
  61. Patterson, M., & Sechrest, S. (1970). Interpersonal distance and impression formation.Journal of Personality, 38, 161–166.Google Scholar
  62. Rosenberg, M. J. (1965). When dissonance fails: On eliminating evaluation apprehension from attitude measurement.Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 1, 28–42.Google Scholar
  63. Schachter, S., & Singer, J. (1962). Cognitive, social, and physiological determinants of emotional state.Psychological Review, 69, 379–399.Google Scholar
  64. Schlenker, B. R. (1980).Impression management. Monterey, CA.: Brooks/Cole.Google Scholar
  65. Siegman, A. W., & Feldstein, S. (1978).Nonverbal behavior and communication. Hillsdale, New Jersey: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  66. Skolnick, P., Frasier, L., & Hadar, I. (1977). Do you speak to strangers? A study of personal space invasions.European Journal of Social Psychology, 7, 375–381.Google Scholar
  67. Smith, R., & Knowles, E. (1978). Attributional consequences of personal space invasions.Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 4, 429–433.Google Scholar
  68. Smith, R., & Knowles, E. (1979). Affective and cognitive mediators of spatial invasions.Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 15, 437–452.Google Scholar
  69. Storms, M., & Thomas, G. (1977). Reactions to physical closeness.Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 35, 412–418.Google Scholar
  70. Street, R. L., & Giles, H. (1982). Speech accommodation theory. In M. E. Roloff & C. R. Berger (Eds.),Social cognition and communication Beverly Hills, CA.: Sage.Google Scholar
  71. Tesch, F. E., Huston, T., & Indenbaum, E. (1973). Attitude, similarity, attraction, and physical proximity in a dynamic space.Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 3, 63–72.Google Scholar
  72. Walden, T., & Forsyth, D. (1981). Close encounters of the stressful kind: Affective, physiological, and behavioral reactions to the experience of crowding.Journal of Nonverbal Behavior, 6, 46–64.Google Scholar
  73. Weiner, B. (1985). Spontaneous causal thinking.Psychological Bulletin, 97, 74–84.Google Scholar
  74. Wegner, D., & Vallacher, R. (1977).Implicit psychology. New York: Oxford.Google Scholar
  75. Winter, L., & Uleman, J. S. (1984). When are social judgments made? Evidence for the spontaneousness of trait inferences.Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 47, 237–252.Google Scholar
  76. Worchel, S., & Yohai, Y. (1979). The role of attribution in the experience of crowding.Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 15, 91–104.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Human Sciences Press 1988

Authors and Affiliations

  • Brian P. O'Connor
    • 1
  • Robert Gifford
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of Quebec at MontrealMontrealCanada

Personalised recommendations