body language: cultural differences in touching

September 4, 2010

Social touching differs from one culture to another. Each culture has unspoken rules about which touches are considered socially acceptable. Some cultures have strict rules about who can touch whom where.

Patting a child on the head is considered an affectionate gesture in many Western countries, but in some Asian countries such as Thailand, it’s considered offensive since the head is seen as the seat of the soul.

Two men holding hands would be seen as a sign of friendly affection in countries such as Saudi Arabia, India, Egypt, or Morocco, while in other countries, they would be seen as gay lovers.

In high-contact countries such as France, people might greet each other by kisses on the cheek, while in low-contact country, it would be considered presumptuous.

Frequency of touch also varies between cultures.

Burton & Dimbleby (2006) observed people in a coffee house. During one hour, Puerto Ricans touched 180 times, French 110, Americans two times, and English people didn’t touch at all.

More posts about interpersonal touch soon.


One comment

  1. We Americans and English people are v e r y cautious. I wonder why. Such habits would seem to have developed for a reason. Thank you for sharing!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: