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COM 123 Interpersonal Communication-Haptics Communication Illinois State University

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Illinois State University

COM 123 Interpersonal Communication-Haptics Communication

Haptics is the study of using touch as nonverbal communication in relationships. Both frequency and
type of touch communicates how we feel about another person and what we are looking for in the
relationship. Whether it be positive or negative, it is essential in communicating a message.
Positive touch is vital in both creating and maintaining relationships such as a hug, a touch on
the leg while on a date, or cuddling with a spouse in bed. Many nonverbal behaviors are examined
such as proximity during conversation, eye contact, and other body language but touch is one of the
most important in communicating emotion, comfort and closeness. However, touch can also communicate
negativity through aggression and violence by physically hurting someone or shoving them to the
side in a crowd. Research shows touch is especially important for infants while they are still
developing (Adler, Rosenfeld, & Proctor, 2013, p. 189). This improves both physiological and
psychological development, and creating personal bonds with others. It gives us channels for
comfort, love, expression, anxiety reduction, and intimacy among many other human necessities. It
is equally important to note the effects absence or discomfort with touch has on the interaction.
This could suggest the person is distant, anxious, not being genuine, or they are uncomfortable
with the person or the context of the interaction. Touch expresses many things, but so does the
lack of it.


COM 123 Interpersonal Communication-Haptics Communication Illinois State University

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