Nonverbal behaviors as indices of arousal: Extension to the psychotherapy context

Judee K. Burgoon, Beth A. Le Poire, Larry E. Beutler, John Bergan, David Engle

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


In an investigation guided by the premise that overt nonverbal indices may often be practical and valid indicators of arousal, Burgoon, Kelley, Newton, and Keeley-Dyreson (1989) found different nonverbal behaviors associated with arousal intensity and with positively and negatively valenced arousal. The current investigation extends that research to a new context, examining (1) the ability of a global measure of observed arousal and specific nonverbal indices of arousal intensity and valence to detect presumed nonlinear arousal changes during psychotherapy, (2) the differential impact of nonverbal indicators across phases of a therapy session, and (3) the relationship of nonverbal indicators to therapy outcome. Raters judged all-channel global arousal or specific kinesic and vocalic nonverbal behaviors during Focused Expressive Psychotherapy (FEP) sessions, during which high levels of negative arousal are evoked. Manifest global arousal, random movement/self-adaptors, and kinesic pleasantness conformed to hypothesized nonlinear patterns across time within therapy sessions. Nonverbal correlates of manifest global arousal varied across therapy phases. Moderate manifest arousal, especially random movement/self-adaptors and vocal tension, and high vocal expressiveness during the middle of the therapy work session were most predictive of patients' self-reported resolution at the end of therapy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)159-178
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Nonverbal Behavior
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1992

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology


Dive into the research topics of 'Nonverbal behaviors as indices of arousal: Extension to the psychotherapy context'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this