The human body plays a central role in nonverbal communication, conveying attitudes, personality, and values during social interactions. Three experiments in a large, open classroom setting investigated whether the visibility of torso-located cues affects nonverbal communication of similarity. In Expts. 1 and 2, half the participants wore a black plastic bag over their torso. Participants interacted with an unacquainted same-sex individual selected from a large class who was also wearing (or also not wearing) a bag. Expt. 3 added a clear bag condition, in which visual torso cues were not obscured. Across experiments, black bag-wearing participants selected partners who were less similar to them on attitudes, behaviors, and personality compared to the bag-less—and clear bag—participants. Nonverbal cues in the torso communicate information about similarity of attitudes, behavior, and personality; the center of the body plays a surprisingly central role in early-stage person perception and attraction.
Bahns, A.J., Crandall, C.S., Gillath, O. (2016). Nonverbal Communication of Similarity via the Torso: It’s in the Bag. Journal of Nonverbal Behavior, Volume 40, Issue 2, pp 151-170. http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10919-016-0227-y