The Difference in Nonverbal Behaviors and How It Changes in a Relationship


Lauren Lantz

For this blog project I selected an article from Texas Speech Communication Journal from 2009 titled The Difference in Nonverbal Behaviors and how it changed in Different Stages of A Relationship. This study consisted of 145 students enrolled in a basic communications class. A questionnaire was created to address nonverbal perceptions in relationships as they progress. The students were told to reflect on their current or past relationships when answering the questions. There are five stages in a relationship where they examined nonverbal behaviors. These stages consist of casual dating, exclusively dating, long-term relationship, cohabitation while in a long-term relationship, and engaged/married. The results of this study indicated that there is a great difference in nonverbal communication between gender and the different stages in a relationship. It shows that the more involved the couple is, the more important nonverbal communication is in their relationship. It was also found that the verbal, nonverbal, and supportive affection varies greatly between the different relationship stages.

After reading this article a few times through and comparing it to our course textbook I found that they both discuss the difference between men and women when it comes to touch. While going through the different stages of a relationship men are more likely to initiate touch in the casual dating stage and as a relationship progresses the woman are more likely to initiate touch after marriage. In our textbook it states “women use touch as a way to communicate affection and to maintain relationships after relationships are established” meaning in the engaged/marriage stages. Also the article shows that men are more likely to initiate touch in the beginning stages of relationships and the books say this is because men use touch as more of a social control in those early stages.

This study answered a lot of questions people have about the difference in nonverbal behaviors and how it changes through the stages in a relationship. Although I would say there are some limitations with this research. Most of the participants were in their twenties, maybe if there were a greater range of age we could also discover the differences between age and how it affects the way people perceive nonverbal behaviors and communication. Also I would like to see research with diversity of races since the greater majority was Caucasian. I am sure there is differences culture wise that could affect nonverbal communication in the different stages of a relationship. The results might have been more detailed if the researchers had come in physical contact with the participants rather than just looking at the completed survey.


Burgoon, J. K., Guerrero, L. K., & Floyd, K. (2010). Nonverbal Communication. New York, New York: Pearson Education, Inc.

Prinsen, T., & Punyanunt-Carter, N. M. (2009). The Difference in Nonverbal Behaviors and How It Changes In Different Stages of a Relationship. Texas Speech Communication Journal , 34, 1-7.


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