An exploratory study of tactual behavior

Date

1973

Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title

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Abstract

The aim of the present Investigation was to study the norms of tactual behavior, and to explore the relationships of physical contact with the setting, the significant other, sex, and several personality variables. A body-contact questionnaire was submitted to 223 male and 258 female college students. The questionnaire was designed to permit Ss to report the extent of tactual interchange with parents and closest friends of each sex in four distinct settings. The four settings were: 1) the dwelling; 2) around a swimming pool; 3) a public restaurant; and 4) a downtown street. The four settings were ranked on a private to public dimension. In addition to the body contact questionnaire, all Ss responded to an anxiety scale, and indicated the degree of satisfaction in their relationships in general, and the degree to which they felt attractive in the presence of the four significant others. Ss also provided biographic and demographic information. Stepwise multiple regression analysis indicated that Ss' accessibility to touch in the four settings accounted for 94 percent of the variance in the scores indicating the extent Ss touched others, and that the best single predictor of Ss' touching behavior was the extent they were accessible to touch in the most public setting, the downtown street. A restricted model regression analysis indicated that when knowledge of setting was not available, Ss' accessibility to touch from opposite-sex friends was the best single predictor of the extent Ss touched others. T-tests for correlated - data Indicated that most tactual behavior took place in the most private settings, and that Ss exchanged most frequent physical contact with oppositesex friends. Ss exchanged significantly less contact with fathers than with mothers, were touched least by same-sex friends, and touched fathers least of all significant others. Intercorrelation of all contact scores indicated that tactual behavior is broadly characteristic of the individual, affected by setting and person. Point biserial correlation indicated that single Ss touched opposite-sex friends as much as married Ss touched their spouses. Ss living at home with their parents engaged in as much body-contact with opposite-sex friends as Ss who did not live at home with their parents. The extent of tactual behavior Ss engaged in with parents was significantly related to level of tactuality with opposite-sex friends and same-sex friends. Males and females reported similar levels of body contact with significant others, with the exception that females reported significantly more tactual interchange with fathers in the dwellings than did males. Correlational data also Indicated that Ss who engaged in more frequent physical contact felt more attractive, and were more satisfied in their relationships than Ss who engaged in less body-contact. Ss who were more satisfied In their relationships felt more attractive and felt less anxious than Ss who were less satisfied in their relationships. Ss who reported they received greater body-contact as children were significantly more satisfied in their relationships with their parents, reported significantly greater total satisfaction in relationships, felt more attractive with their parents, and reported more frequent body-contact with their parents as adults. Results indicated that an important aspect of an individual's interpersonal life, that is, tactual behavior, can be measured, and that the relationships of tactual contact with setting, significant other, sex, and various personality variables can be described.

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Keywords

Touch, Body language

Citation