Immediacy

Emotion cue. 1. The degree to which a nonverbal message conveys liking or disliking. 2. Nonverbally, an expression of emotional attachment (or a feeling of closeness) to another person. 3. Signs that show heightened sensory stimulation, attentiveness, and liking (Mehrabian 1981).

Usage: Immediacy (which most often refers to friendly rather than unfriendly cues) shows in a. angular distance, b. body alignment, c. body-lean, d. cut-off, e. eye contact, f. hand-reach signs, g. isopraxism, h. love signals, i. muscle tension, j. musk, k. object fancy, l. palm-up signs, m. perfume cues, n. personal distance, o. pupil size, p. rapport, q. tone of voice, r. touch cues, and s. zygomatic smiles.

RESEARCH REPORTS: 1. Immediacy is the "directness and intensity of interaction between two entities" (Mehrabian 1967:325). 2. Immediacy promotes psychological closeness (Anderson 1979). 3. "In short, immediacy behaviors express approach or avoidance and, in the process, affect the level of sensory involvement of the participants" (Burgoon et al. 1989:100). 4. "Immediacy is the degree of perceived physical or psychological closeness between people" (Richmond et al. 1991:205).

See also EMOTION, FIGHT-OR-FLIGHT.

Copyright © 1998 - 2001 (David B. Givens/Center for Nonverbal Studies)

cutoff

CUT-OFF

Body movement. A form of gaze avoidance in which the head is turned fully away to one side.

Usage: In a conversation, a sudden cut-off gesture may indicate uncertainty or disagreement with a speaker's remarks. Sustained cut-off may reveal shyness or disliking.

Salesmanship. One signal of a prospect's skepticism: "Looking suddenly up and to the side" (Delmar 1984:46).

RESEARCH REPORTS: 1. Facing away is a reaction to spatial invasion (Sommer 1969). 2. "After the host and the various guests embraced, they backed off and one or both always looked away. [Adam] Kendon calls this the cut-off and thinks it may be an equilibrium-maintaining device [to re-establish a proper level of intimacy]" (Davis 1971:46). 3. ". . . we have repeatedly seen in normal 3- to 4-month-old infants extreme head aversion function to terminate intrusive maternal behavior" (Stern 1974:188-89). 4. "In all cases [in the presence of strange adults] boys turn their heads away to the side more than do girls" (Stern and Bender 1974:241). 5. Gaze aversion "increased dramatically" in conditions of crowding (Baxter and Rozelle 1975:46).

E-Commentary: "Do you know if there's been any research on whether you can read anything on intent from the direction someone glances when they look away during a conversation? I had a client who's a reporter tell me she believes it's an indication of deceit for someone to glance to their right (as if looking into the future and searching for their words) as opposed to glancing to their left (as if searching the past to make sure their words are accurate.) Is this a bunch of crap, or is there something to that [see CLEM]. I promised her I'd ask you." --L.G., Senior Communications Consultant, USA (11/19/99 2:14:15 PM Pacific Standard Time)

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