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Psychiatry. 1988 Nov;51(4):378-84.

Nonverbal expressions of anxiety in physician-patient interactions.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, Miami University, Oxford, Ohio 45046.


NONVERBAL expressions of anxiety were analyzed during patient presentation of conflicted emotional topics (i.e., hidden agendas) while consulting with family medicine practitioners. It was hypothesized that underlying anxiety would be revealed in higher frequencies of specific types of nonverbal behavior. As predicted, hand-to-body self-touching occurred significantly more often during presentation of anxiety-producing topics, while frequencies of speech-illustrative gestures did not differ for type of agenda presented. Applications for these findings are discussed with reference to medical and psychotherapy encounters.

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