Self-touching as an indicator of underlying affect and language processes

Soc Sci Med. 1985;20(11):1161-8. doi: 10.1016/0277-9536(85)90193-5.


In this study of 28 physicians and their patients during the medical interview, information is presented on a class of nonverbal behavior, self-touching, thought to represent states of negative affect. A more recent perspective suggests that self-touching is associated with cognitive processing. The results of the present study focused on differences in types of self-touching by patients and physicians, semantic content of utterances when self-touching was displayed, and temporal location of self-touching within the speech stream. These are considered with respect to affective and psycholinguistic theories of self-touching. The results lend support to the notion that self-touching is exhibited in relation to information processing and production, in addition to negative affect.

MeSH terms

  • Affect*
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Language*
  • Nonverbal Communication
  • Physician-Patient Relations*
  • Touch*