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Understanding handshaking : the result of contextual, interpersonal and social demands

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Title: Understanding handshaking : the result of contextual, interpersonal and social demands
Author: Huwer, Jennifer
Advisor: Boltz, Marilyn; Le, Benjamin
Department: Haverford College. Dept. of Psychology
Type: Thesis (B.A.)
Running Time: 369924 bytes155603 bytes
Issue Date: 2003
Abstract: The communicative functions of handshaking behavior were observed as a function of social context, interpersonal intimacy, and gender. Male and female participants were asked to imagine one of six levels of social context (Consolation, Congratulations, Hello, Farewell/Thank you, Agreement and Ritual) as they shook hands in a same or mixed-sex dyad that was characterized by one of four intimacy levels (Close friend, Acquaintance, New-stranger and Dislike). An analysis of handshake type and duration revealed that both measures of behavior varied with social context in that handshakes of consolation consistently elicited the longest handshakes and highest degrees of touching. This finding held for both sexes although gender differences were observed in handshaking behavior, as women produced overall longer average durations and more interpersonal touching; women preferred multiple pumping handshakes whereas men preferred single pumping handshakes. When shaking hands with opposite sex partners, both males and females accommodated to their partners' styles to use their partners' preferred handshake type. The results from this study establish empirical evidence that different types of handshakes have specific communicative functions. Handshakes vary along dimensions of type and duration to meet these communicative demands. The findings agree with previous nonverbal literature. Implications for future research studies and the relationship between the individual and social norms are discussed.
Subject: Handshaking
Subject: Interpersonal communication
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Huwer, Jennifer. "Understanding handshaking : the result of contextual, interpersonal and social demands". 2003. Available electronically from

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