“Sad monkey see, monkey do:” Nonverbal matching in emotional support encounters

Susanne M. Jones, John G. Wirtz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The current study examined the interpersonal coordination of nonverbal immediacy behaviors in the emotional support process. Participants (N = 216) disclosed a distressing event to a confederate who was trained to exhibit emotional support that varied in high, moderate, or low nonverbal immediacy. After the 5-minute conversation, participants evaluated the confederate on several scales. Trained coders coded 10 immediacy cues of confederates and participants. Results indicated that participants tended to match confederates, regardless of the immediacy condition. Perceived liking for the helper did not moderate immediacy matching and exerted only a main effect on confederate immediacy; participants reported liking better highly immediate helpers than either moderately immediate or nonimmediate helpers. The study also generated several sex differences, such that, with the exception of eye contact, women tended to match confederates more than did men.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)71-86
Number of pages16
JournalCommunication Studies
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2007
Externally publishedYes


  • Emotional Support
  • Interaction Adaptation
  • Matching
  • Nonverbal Immediacy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication


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