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Does Familiarity Affect Gestural Rates?


  • Michael Anderson

Summary, in English

Face-to-face dialogue can be regarded as a direct and visible way to establish a close connection, between two people facing each other communicate proactively and without barriers. It also plays a key role in the study of verbal and nonverbal communication. A number of studies provide an overview of how gesture rates in face-to-face conditions have registered different rates compared with other social settings. These settings included monologue conversation, using intercom devices or using partitioned walls to separate speakers from seeing each other (Alibali & Heath, 2001; Bavelas, 1992; Bavelas & Chovil, 2006; Hostetter & Potthoff 2012).
Although research on gesture rates is limited and restricted to aspects such as visibility and gesture functions, this study focuses on the effects of different degrees of familiarity (friend, acquaintance and stranger), in face-to-face interaction.
The results show that each level of familiarity has different gestural rates. For example, higher gestural rates were registered when the speaker talks with an acquaintance and lower gestural rates registered when the speaker interacts with a friend and with a stranger.
The study highlights the influence of the speaker’s knowledge, the use of English as a second language and social behaviour which are also discussed.


  • Master's Programme: Language and Linguistics

Publishing year




Document type

Student publication for Master's degree (one year)


  • Languages and Literatures


  • Speech
  • Gesture strokes
  • Gesture rates
  • Familiarity
  • Interaction.


  • Marianne Gullberg (Professor)