Date of Award
Executive Doctorate in Business (EDB)
Leigh Anne Liu
In business, the ability to develop rapport with a potential exchange partner can significantly impact the outcome of a negotiation. Although non-verbal communication is a key factor in relationship-building, there is little research on use of touch in business, and even less about hugging, even though hugging is becoming more common in the US. To explore hugging as a nonverbal form of communication in the workplace, the researcher adopted a quasi-experimental design informed by Social Exchange Theory (SET). During the experiment, power and dyadic gender composition were manipulated to study their effects on a “hugee’s” decision to reciprocate a hug, or not, in a business setting. Following a scenario-based encounter between subject and confederate, the subjects answered a series of questions about themselves and their experience. This research shows that female research participants are more likely than male participants to reciprocate a hug offered by a same-gender exchange partner; that the power (status) of a “hugger” does not significantly influence whether or not a research participant will reciprocate a hug offered by an exchange partner; that the gender of the research participant does not moderate the effect of power of the exchange partner such that power will have a greater effect on female participants than male participants and that individual traits of Emotional Sensitivity and Social Flexibility do not predict hugging in the workplace.
Gable, Paula R., "Embracing the Unexpected: A Quasi-experiment to Explore the Effects of Power and Gender on the Decision to Reciprocate a Hug-Or Not-in the Workplace." Dissertation, Georgia State University, 2018.