When Nonverbal Greetings “Make It or Break It”: The Role of Ethnicity and Gender in the Effect of Handshake on Social Appraisals
Despite previous evidence identifying the role of ethnic and gender differences in nonverbal communication, few studies have comprehensively investigated the role of these factors in the effect of handshake on appraisals of social interactions. Here, 88 young adults (with equal proportions of Caucasians and East Asians, and women and men) observed and evaluated a series of movies illustrating guest–host interactions in a business setting. Each interaction started with a greeting protocol initiated by the host, which, in half of the trials, involved a handshake. The greeting was followed by a display of behaviors either encouraging (approach) or discouraging (avoidance) further interaction. Ethnicity and gender of the hosts were manipulated to depict the same categories represented by participants. First, the effect of handshake on appraisals of social interactions was more positive in Caucasian than in East Asian participants. Second, the effect of handshake on appraisals of social interactions was more positive for male than for female hosts in male participants, whereas such differences were not observed in female participants. Third, appraisals of social interactions involving approach and avoidance behaviors were more positive in Caucasian than in East Asian participants. Finally, appraisals of social interactions involving approach behaviors were more positive in female than in male participants. Overall, these findings shed light on the role of ethnic and gender differences in the appraisal of nonverbal behaviors, and extend our understanding of factors that may lead to successful social interaction in the context of growing diversity in our society.
KeywordsFirst impression Greeting behavior Nonverbal communication Emotion Intergroup process
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