Reacting to nonverbal expressions of liking: A test of interaction adaptation theory

Kory Floyd, Judee K. Burgoon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

65 Scopus citations


An intuitive notion regarding expressions of liking is that they are consistently associated with positive relational outcomes. However, when such expressions go unreciprocated, they can leave the sender in a face-compromising position and may end up damaging the relationship. The current experiment applied interaction adaptation theory to the task of predicting when nonverbal expressions of liking will be reciprocated. Ninety-six adults were paired with same-sex strangers and induced to expect the strangers either to like or dislike them and to desire that the strangers either like or dislike them. The strangers, who were trained confederates, enacted nonverbal behaviors associated either with liking or disliking during a short experimental interaction with participants. Participants enacted nonverbal liking behavior when they desired the same from confederates, largely irrespective of participants' expectations or confederates' actual behaviors. Conversely, participants enacted disliking behavior when they desired the same from confederates. These results provide support for interaction adaptation theory and also suggest the counterintuitive notion that expressions of liking may not always be considered positive events. The results also raise important issues for how behavior valence and expectations are conceptually and operationally defined.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)219-239
Number of pages21
JournalCommunication Monographs
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1999


  • Adaptation
  • Affection
  • Nonverbal behavior

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication
  • Language and Linguistics


Dive into the research topics of 'Reacting to nonverbal expressions of liking: A test of interaction adaptation theory'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this