- Videotapes of 90 dyadic interactions from Sommer and Bernieri (2015) were examined to assess verbal and nonverbal intimacy. Verbal intimacy (self-disclosing statements) and nonverbal intimacy behaviors (face gaze, distance, body orientation, and forward lean) were coded in every interaction. It was hypothesized that verbal intimacy (self-disclosure) would increase over time as a result of the rapport building task (RCIT) that comprised the interaction setting (Sedikides, Campbell, Reeder, & Elliot, 1999). It was hypothesized further that, due to the equilibrium theory of intimacy (Argyle & Dean, 1965), nonverbal indicators of intimacy would decrease to compensate for the anticipated increase in verbal intimacy the task was intended to facilitate. In addition, there was an opportunity to examine whether social rejection would moderate this process. In half of the interactions, a mild social rejection manipulation was introduced to one interactant with the hope of intensifying social approach and avoidance behaviors (Maner, DeWall, Baumeister, & Schaller, 2007). Contrary to the first hypothesis, the
number of self-disclosing statements (a measure of psychological intimacy) actually declined over the course of the interaction that was intended to increase self-disclosure and intimacy. Because the second hypothesis depended on the first, and the first was not confirmed, the second hypothesis became less testable. However, nonverbal intimacy behaviors declined over the course of the interaction. These results indicated reciprocation, and suggested that the RCIT was not utilized properly to facilitate an increase in self-disclosure over time, which prevented a test of the compensation hypothesis. Additionally, although there is some experimental evidence to support current theories of nonverbal behavior such as equilibrium theory, the relationship between psychological states and motivations are, in fact, complexly and imperfectly related to spontaneous behavior. In this case, equilibrium theory was inadequate to explain the entirety of interaction behavior within the context observed.