Nonverbal Influence

Nonverbal Persuasion
Overview of nonverbal
Nonverbal communication is powerful
– Burgoon, Buller, & Woodall (1989) 60%
of the socio-emotional meaning of a
message is carried via nonverbal cues
• Nonverbal influence can be subtle
– Fisher, Rytting, & Heslin (1976): Library
patrons who received an “accidental”
touch were more likely to return books
on time
Overview continued
You cannot “read a person like a
– No one-to-one correspondence
between a particular nonverbal cue
and its specific meaning
– “individual difference perspective”:
nonverbal behavior is highly
• Not all of nonverbal communication
is obvious or “intuitive”
– Burgoon & Guererro (1994)
relationship between posture and
– eye contact and deception detection
Nonverbal persuasion in action
• Body Image:
– Media depictions of the ideal
female body type contribute
to body dissatisfaction and
eating disorders in women.
– the average American model
is 5'11" tall and weighs 117
– the average American
woman is 5'4" tall and weighs
140 pounds.
More nonverbal influence in
Nothing says “peace” and
“ecology” like getting naked
• anti-war activists: naked
dissidents spell “no war.”
• logging protesters: female
environmentalists bare their
breasts to stop loggers from
cutting down old growth
Nonverbal persuasion in action
When Bush claimed “mission
accomplished” aboard the
U.S.S. Abraham Lincoln on May
1, 2003, the photo-op backfired
as the war went on and on
• Janet Jackson’s “wardrobe
malfunction” during the
Superbowl prompted the FCC to
clamp down on risqué shows
The Direct Effects model of
Andersen (1999): warm, involving,
immediate behaviors enhance the
persuasive effects of a message
– It is easier to comply with those we
– easier to trust warm, friendly people
• Single channel immediacy (eye contact)
increases compliance, as does multichannel immediacy (eye contact and
Expectancy Violations Theory
• Buller & Burgoon (1986)
People have expectations about what constitutes
appropriate behavior in social situations
– example: elevator etiquette
• Violations of these expectations are perceived
positively or negatively, depending upon:
– the status, reward power of the communicator
– the range of interpretations that can be
assigned to the violation
– the perception/evaluation of the interpreted
Types of nonverbal cues
Proxemics (distance)
Vocalics (paralanguage)
Haptics (touch)
Chronemics (time)
Kinesics (behavior)
Artifacts (dress, belongings)
Edward Hall’s space zones
• Effective persuasion requires honoring
space zones (e.g. not violating
expectations negatively)
– Public distance: 12-25 feet
– Social or formal distance: 4-12 feet
• Most U.S. business relationships
begin in the Social Zone
– Personal or informal distance: 3
1/2/-4 feet
• Managers and co-workers who
enter the Personal Zone too
quickly risk conflict and distrust.
– Intimate distance: 18 inches or less
Segrin’s (1993) meta-analysis of
proxemics studies
“close” distance was typically operationalized as 1-2 ft., “far”
was usually 3-5 ft.
• of eight studies examined, “the effect for closer proximity was
consistent. Close space produces greater compliance than
distant space” (p. 173)
Advice on vocal delivery
A faster speech rate enhances perceptions of
credibility more than a slower speech rate
• Increasing intonation, volume, and pitch variation
increases perceptions of credibility
– Monotone speakers bore their audiences
Limiting or controlling nonfluencies
– Excessive “ums, uhs” decrease credibility
Use an assertive style of speaking
– conveys confidence and conviction
Minimize casual speech, “valley talk,” colloquialisms
Moderation should be exercised with all vocal cues
(avoid extremes in any one category)
Haptics (touch)
Self touch (adaptors) tend to decrease
The “Midas Touch” and compliance gaining
– Gueguen (2003) females boarding a bus
“discovered” they didn’t have a ticket. They
asked the driver to let them ride for free
• Drivers who were touched were more likely
to comply with the request than drivers who
weren’t touched
– Gueguen & Fischer-Lokou (2002): A person
asked a stranger to watch his or her large,
unruly dog for 10 minutes while he/she
went into a bank
• 55% of subjects who were touched
• 35% of subject who weren’t touched
– Crusco & Wetzel (1984), Hornick (1992)
food servers who used touch received
larger tips
Segrin’s (1993) meta-analysis of
touch studies
The most common experimental paradigm
involves light touch on the upper arm or
shoulder while making a request
• Of 13 studies examined, “it can be concluded
touch always produces as much, and in many
cases more compliance than no touch, all other
things being held equal” (p. 174)
More on touch and compliance
Why is touch so persuasive?
– Conveys immediacy, warmth
– Increases liking
– Serves as a distraction
• Caution: too much touch can backfire
– May be perceived as a negative
violation of expectations, e.g.,
insincere, coercive, or a form of
sexual harassment
Time spent waiting confers power, status
– example: M.D.s and patients
– example: Professors and students
• Tardiness can negatively impact credibility
– Burgoon et al (1989): late arrivers were
considered more dynamic, but less
competent, less sociable than those
who were punctual
• There are huge cultural differences in timeconsciousness
Cultural differences in
perceptions of time
• Western culture: M-time
emphasizes precise
schedules, promptness,
time as a commodity
“time is money”
“New York minute”
“Down time”
“Limited Time Offer!”
“Must Act Now”
• Other cultures: P-time
cultures don’t value
punctuality as highly,
don’t emphasize precise
– “island time”
– Sioux Indians have no
spoken words for “late”
or “tardy”
Time as a sales strategy
• Urgency as a sales tactic
– must act now, limited time offer, first come
first serve
– Time windows; shop early and save, super
savings from 7am-10am
– 1 hour photo, Lenscrafters, Jiffy Lube, drive
through banks, etc.
• Non-urgency as a sales strategy
– 90 days same as cash
– No No No sales
– mega-bookstores that encouraging browsing,
Kinesics (movement, gesture,
posture, facial expression, eye
Beebe (1974) eye contact and perceptions
of honesty
• Eye contact and compliance gaining
– Robinson, Seiter, & Acharya (1992)
successful panhandlers establish eye
– Kleinke (1989) compared legitimate
and illegitimate requests when using
eye contact
– LaFrance &Hecht (1995) greater
leniency for cheaters who smiled
Segrin’s (1993) meta-analysis
of gaze studies
Gueguen & Jacob (2003): Direct gaze
produced greater compliance with a request
to complete an oral survey than an evasive
• Gaze has been studied in the context of
hitchhiking, borrowing change, handing out
pamphlets, obtaining change, donating
money for a charity
• “gaze produced greater compliance than gzae
aversion in every one of the 12 studies” (p.
Kinesics: facial expression
Birdwhistle (1970): the face
is capable of conveying
250,000 expressions
Kinesics: smiling
Smiling increases sociability,
likeability, attraction
• LaFrance & Hecht (1995) Smiling
students who were charged with
academic dishonesty received
greater leniency
• Heslin & Patterson (1982):
smiling by food servers increased
• Excessive smiling can hinder
Kinesics: body language
DePaulo (1982): “mirroring” body language facilitates compliance
• McGinley, LeFevre, & McGinley (1975): an “open” body posture is
perceived as more persuasive than a “closed” posture
Kinesics: gestures, appearance,
height and weight
Gestures can send subtle or not so subtle cues
Physical appearance
– Mixed messages in women’s magazines
– Brownlow & Zebrowitz (1990): baby faced
versus mature face persuaders and
– Height and weight:
• Knapp & Hall (1992) survey of height
and starting salaries
• Height and perceived credibility
• Argyle (1988) endomorphs more likely
to be discriminated against
Material objects as an extension of
the self
• Uniforms and compliance gaining
– Lawrence & Watson (1991):
requests for contributions were
greater when requesters wore
– Bickman (1971): change left in a
phone booth was returned to well
dressed people 77% of the time,
poorly dressed people only 38%
of the time
– Clothing signifies authority
• Example: Milgram (1974)
Clothing and status factors
Gueguen (2003) Shoppers were
less likely to report a welldressed shoplifter than a
casually dressed or poorly
dressed shoplifter.
– Neatly dressed: suit & tie
(90% did not report)
– Neutral: Clean jeans, teeshirt and jacket, moccasins
(63% did not report)
– Slovenly: Dirty jeans, torn
jacket, sneakers (60% did
not report)
More on clothing and status
• Gueguen & Pichot (2001):
pedestrians at a cross-walk were
more likely to “jaywalk” by following
a well-dressed person across an
intersection displaying a red light
– Control condition: 15.6%
violations of do not walk signal
– Well-dressed: 54.5% violations
– Casually dressed: 17.9% violations
– Poorly dressed: 9.3% violations
Segrin’s (1993) meta-analysis of
apparel studies
Operationalizations of clothing or attire were
quite diverse (hippie, professional, bum,
formal, uniform, etc.)
• In general “the more formal or high status
the clothing, the greater the compliance rate
obtained” (p. 177)
Attractiveness and social
Stewart (1980) studied the relationship between
attractiveness and criminal sentencing
– handsome defendants were twice as likely to
avoid a jail sentence
• Benson, Kerabenic, & Lerner (1976): both sexes
were likely to comply with a request for aid or
assistance if the other was attractive