Psychology - Non-verbal communication

  • Created by: bondj
  • Created on: 17-04-15 17:03

Verbal communication

Argyle, alkena and gilmour

Aim: to see if tone of voice has any effect when interpreting a verbal message.

Method: different groups of participants listened to either friendly or hostile messages spoken in either friendly or hostile tones of voice. Therefore, some participants heard a hostile message spoken in a friendly tone of voice and others heard a friendly message spoken in a hostile tone of voice.

Results: when participants were asked to interpret the messages, it was found that the tone of voice had about five times the effect of the verbal message itself.

Conclusion: tone of voice is extremely important in how people interpret verbal messages. 

1 of 15

Verbal communication

Davitz and davitz

Aim: to see the effect of paralinguistics on the assessment of emotion.

Method: participants were asked to listen to tape recordigs and to assess the speaker's emotions from the paralinguistic cues: tone of voice, emphasis, and intonation.

Results: there was a very high level of accuracy in recognising emotions: affection, amusement, disgust and fear.

Conclusion: paralinguistics has great importance when judging emotion.

2 of 15

Functions of eye contact


Aim: to see how eye movements affect the flow of conversation.

Method: pairs of participants were asked to get aquainted. Their conversations were secretly watched by observers through a one-way mirror system.

Results: as one person was about to speak, they looked away from the other person, breifly avoiding eye contact. They then would give the other person's face a prolonged look when they were about to finish what they were saying. When the speaker gave the prolonged look, it seemed to indicate to te other person that they could begin to speak. If the prolonged look didn't happen then there was a pause in the conversation.

Conclusion: eye movements signal taking turns in conversation.

3 of 15

Functions of eye contact


Aim: to see how interrupting eye contact affects the conversation.

Method: pairs of participants were observed having conversations. In half of the conversations, one of the participants wore dark glasses so that the other could not recieve eye contact.

Results: when one of the participants wore dark glasses, there were more pauses and interruptions than when dark glasses were not worn.

Conclusion: eye contact is important in ensuring the smooth flow of the conversation.

4 of 15

Functions of eye contact


Aim: to see the effect of pupil dilation on emotion.

Method: participants were shown two nearly identical pictures of the same girl and asked which picture was more attractive. The only difference between the two pictures was that, in one of them, the girl's pupils were dilated, and in the other picture they were not. 

Results: the majority of the participants said that the girl with the dilated pupils was more attractive. Strangely though, they could not say why the thought that.

Conclusion: pupil dilation has an unconscious but powerful effect on emotion.

5 of 15

Facial expression


Aim: to look at the relationship between facial expression and the hemispheres of the brain.

Method: pictures of people's faces showing different emotions were cut down the middle. New pictures were created with each half of the face and its mirror image. Then each pair of new faces was shown to a participants. They were asked which picture they liked better.

Results: the majority of participants said they preferred the picture of the left hand side of the face and its reflection. When they were asked why they said that the person in the picture looked warmer. 

Conclusion: the left side of the face seems to express emtoion much more than the right side.

6 of 15



Aim: to see the effect of postural echo when having a conversation.

Method: a conferderate of the experimentor approached individuals in a social setting and had conversations with them, In half of the meetings, the confederate echoed the posture of the person they were talking to. In the rest of the meetings, the conderate did not echo the posture of the other person. Afetrwards, the experimentor approached the indviduals and asked them what they thought about the confederate.

Results: when postural echo was used, the poeple questioned liked the confederate more and thought that they got on well together. When postural echo was not used the confederate was not liked as much and the conversation felt awkward. 

Conclusion: postural echo gives an unconscience message of friendliness.

7 of 15


Mcginley, lefevre and Mcginley

Aim: to see the effect of open and closed posture when having a conversation.

Method: A confederate of the experimenter approached individuals in a social setting and had conversations with them. In half of the conversations the confederate adopted a closed posture. and in the other half of the conversations, the confederate adopted an open posture. Afterwards the experimenter approached the individuals and asked them what they thought of the confederate.

Results: when showing an open posture, the confederate was seen as friendly and attractive. When showing a closed posture the confederate was seen as unfriendly and unattractive.

Conclusion: the posture that someone adopts will make a difference to how much they are liked.

8 of 15


Lynn and mynier

Aim: to see the effect of gestures  used by waiters aand waitresses on the tipping behaviour of customers in a restaurant.

Method: while takig orders from seated customers, waiters and waitresses were instructed to either stand upright or squat dow near the customer (squatting down makes more eye contact possible).

Results: when the waiter and waitresses squatted down, larger tips were recieved compared with when they took orders standing upright.

Conclusion: the gesture of squatting down near a seated customer to take an order will have a positive effect on tipping behaviour.

9 of 15


Fisher, rytting and heslin

Aim: to see the effect of touch on people's attitudes.

Method: female students in a library were handed books by the librarian. The librarian was a confederate of the experimenter. Hlaf of the students were briefly touched on the hand when the librarian handed the books over. The other students were not touched by the librarian.

Results: when questionned later, the students who were touched had a much more positive attitude towards the librarian and the library than those who were not touched. The interesting thing was that the students were not aware that they had been touched.

Conclusion: touch will have an unconscious and positive effect on attitudes.

10 of 15

Sex differences

Argyle and dean

Aim: to see if sex differences affect personal space.

Method: one at a time, participants were asked to sit down and have a conversation with another person who was actually a confederate of the experimenter. Sometimes he confederate was the same sex as the participant and at other times the confederate was the opposite sex. The confederate was sat at different distances from the participant and continually looked into the participants eyes.

Results: the participants tended to break eye contact with the confederate of the opposite sex at a greater difference apart than when the confederate was of the same sex. Argyle and dean thought that this was the point at which personal space was being invaded.

Conclusion: we prefer to have a greater amount of personal space between ourselves and members of the opposite sex during normal conversation.

11 of 15

Individual differences


Aim: to see if age has an effect on personal space.

Method: Willis observed almost 800 individuls in different social situations.

Results: those he observed tended to stannd closer to people their own age and further away from people who were either very much older or younger than themselves.

Conclusion: age difference affects how close peple will stand to one another.

12 of 15

Individual differences


Aim: to see if personality has an effect on personal space.

Method: college students were given personality tests to see if they were extrovert (outgoing and sociable) or introvert (quiet and reserved). They were then sent to an office one by one to receive their college grades from a tutor. The researces noted where they chose to sit in the office when receiving their grades.

Results: introverts sat surther away from the tutor than extroverts.

Conclusion: whether someone is extrovert or introvert will affect their use of personal space.

13 of 15

Cultural norms


Aim: to see if there are cultural differences in the use of personal space

Method: summer observed groups of white English people and groups of Arab pepople in conversation.

Results: the comfortable conversation distance for the whitue English people was 1-1.5m, whereas the comfortable conversation distance for the Arabs were much less than that.

Conclusion: the use of personal space in normal conversation varies with culture.

14 of 15



Aim: to see if status has an effect on persoanl space.

Method: zahn observed people of equal status approaching each other to have a conversation. He also observed people of unequal stauts approaching each other. 

Results: zahn found that people of lower status did not higher-status people with the smae degree of closeness as those of of equal status. 

Conclusion: the use of personal space varies with differences in status when approaching other people.

15 of 15


No comments have yet been made

Similar Psychology resources:

See all Psychology resources »See all Non-verbal communication resources »