External motivators of self-touching behavior

Percept Mot Skills. 2000 Feb;90(1):338-42. doi: 10.2466/pms.2000.90.1.338.


Previous research has shown that nonverbal self-touching behaviors can be induced by external motivators such as videos and literary passages about insects. This study investigated whether the number of self-touching behaviors differed between presentation of what was assumed to be an anxiety-inducing stimulus (listening to the reading of a passage about leeches and answering questions) or a nonanxiety-inducing stimulus (a passage about canaries). It also investigated whether there was a difference in frequency of self-touching when subjects were passively listening to passages or actively answering questions. The difference in frequency of self-touching between men and women was also observed. Over-all, subjects did not perform significantly more self-touching gestures during the anxiety-inducing stimulus than during the nonanxiety-inducing, as previous research had indicated. Subjects did touch themselves significantly more, however, while answering questions than while listening to the passage. Over-all, men performed significantly more self-touching behaviors than women. And, women touched themselves significantly more during the active anxiety-inducing cell than in any other condition.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Animals
  • Anxiety / psychology*
  • Auditory Perception
  • Female
  • Gestures
  • Humans
  • Kinesics*
  • Male
  • Motivation*
  • Touch*