Introductory greeting behaviour in relation to sex, age, physical characteristics, attitudes, personality, and psychopathology : Approaches by interviews, observations, and experiments

University dissertation from Linköping : Linköpings universitet

Abstract: The overall aim of this thesis was to elucidate, through interviews, observations and experiments, elements of the introductory greeting, such as sex, age, physical characteristics, personality, and psychopathology, in a psychotherapeutic situation. As an introductory greeting it was considered here the ftrst occasion the therapist and the patient greet each other in the waiting room.Papers I - III in the thesis deal with the construction of an interview questionnaire, its psychometric properties and use among psychotherapists (n= 79) and psychotherapeutic out-patients (n= 50). Psychotherapists were interviewed about their attitudes towards and observations of nonverbal communication in an introductory greeting situation. The results from the interview were related to therapists' background variables such as sex, age, clinical experience, and theoretical orientation. Psychotherapeutic out-patients were interviewed in a similar way.Paper IV deals with rated handshaking in psychiatric patients (n= 29) related to personality traits according to an abbreviated scale of Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI), the Faschingbauer Abbreviated MMPI (FAM), clinical diagnoses, and psychosocial functioning. Four handshaking variables were rated independently by two raters in a ftve steps scale: the perceived Consistency, Temperature, Dryness and Strength of the hand. The interrater reliability was satisfactory.Papers V - VI deal with the greeting behaviour of healthy subjects (n= 50) in an experimental setting. The introductory greeting behaviour was fthned and nonverbal immediacy behaviour (NVIB) analysed in the approaching and close salutation phases together with the handshaking variables, and related to some back-ground variables such as sex, age, body height, vigour of the hand, and personality traits.The interview questionnaire possessed satisfactory psychometric qualities (Paper I). Female psychotherapists paid signiftcantly greater importance to 'face communication in the greeting situation compared to male therapists. Great importance attached to nonverbal communication in psychotherapy was related to being well-kept and to perform correctly in front of the patient, to establish direct communication in the greeting situation, and to frequent work in psychotherapy and an eclectic psychotherapeutic orientation (Paper II). The importance of the face as a mean of contact in nonverbal communication was particularly stressed by female, mainly older patients who believed that 'face communication' covers more than 50 percent of the total communication in human interactions (Paper III).The findings in psychiatric patients (Paper IV) indicate that the handshaking procedure may transmit information about personality make-up. Low temperature and humidity of the palmar skin were related to social introversion, depression, and tendency to symptom enhancement mainly in women.The reliability and stability over time of nonverbal immediacy behaviour (physic and psychological closeness) and handshake characteristics in the experimental study were on the whole satisfactory (Papers V - VI). Women displayed greater intimacy behaviour (less physical distance and presence of smile) in their greeting behaviour than males. Statistically signiftcant correlations between variables of handshaking and personality traits were noted. Strength of the hand in particular was related to extraversion loaded traits as dominance, aggression and exhibition.

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