Relational message interpretations of nonverbal matching behavior: An application of the social meaning model

Kory Floyd, Larry A. Erbert

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


The social meaning model asserts that some nonverbal behaviors have consensually recognized relational meanings within a given social community. According to this perspective, the interpretations made by encoders, decoders, and 3rd-party observers of the same nonverbal behavior should be congruent. The authors applied the model to the identification of relational message interpretations of nonverbal matching behavior. Confederates either matched or did not match the nonverbal behaviors of conversational participants while being watched by nonparticipant observers. All three nonconfederate participants provided interpretations of the confederates' relational messages. As the authors had expected, there were moderate correlations between the 3 perspectives, with observers usually providing less favorable assessments than the conversational participants. The authors also examined the influence of positive and negative stimulus behavior on relational message interpretations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)581-597
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Social Psychology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 1 2003


  • Nonverbal messages
  • Relational communication
  • Social meaning

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology

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