Tactile communication

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Tactile communication
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Tactile communication is one of the elements of non-verbal communication, where the main element is touch. Tactile behavior is one of the basic forms of communication and an involvement of personal communication with another person[1].

It is a very important mechanism and vehicle in interpersonal relations. It can be associated with a wide range of associations such as[2] :

  • aggression
  • sexuality
  • psychical coercion

The type of touch between people in interpersonal relationships is a sign of their acceptance and closeness to each other. They can be diametrically different as a result of knowing another person, among other things, like heir age, relationship, sense of threat, lack of trust. As an example, the relationship in the company(when it comes to tactile communication) between the employers and employees can be much more different than the relationship between employees. Type of touch and its intensity is a kind of agreement between both sides[3].

Examples of tactile communication influences

Tactile communication can accompany us in many areas of our lives and have a direct impact on our qualities and abilities. Physical touch has a significant impact on our behavior in everyday life, for example[4]:

  • improve of trust in each other
  • willingness to cooperate
  • better teamwork

It can also be a stress-relieving factor, improving our mood and diametrically increasing our productiveness. Touch can also be used to increase the sense of security and reducing feeling of threat.

The research also proves that the form of non-verbal communication that is tactile communication has a big impact on our behaviour as consumers. It has been observed that touch can provide a certain stimulus, which will be a certain indicator of our choices as a consumer. It is perceived as something good and strengthens positive feelings[5].

Barriers to tactile communication

Tactile communication is a very sensual and intimate form of communication, which can vary greatly in different regions of the world as well as in business relations. The same forms of touch can mean completely different things in other countries in the world and can be perceived in a different way, which can be unpredictable for us.

As an example we can use the interpersonal relations in Japan, which are different from our commonly known ones. In their youth, the Japanese have a lot of physical contact with their parents, which disappears in later years. When they're grown-ups they attach great importance to every form of touch.That is why, in business relations with the Japanese you must take special care by dealing with them. Pay attention first of all to avoid kissing. For a very long time the Japanese didn't know how to make a greeting with a handshake. Only for some time now this form of greeting has become popular in Japan[6].


  1. Hornik J., (1992), Tactile Stimulation and Consumer Response, Journal of Consumer Research, p. 449
  2. Classen C., (2005), The book of touch, Berg, p. 18
  3. Classen C., (2005), The book of touch, Berg, p. 18-19
  4. Kraus M., Huang C., Keltner D., (2010), Tactile Communication, Cooperation, and Performance: An Ethological Study of the NBA, American Psychological Association, p.745 – 746
  5. Hornik J., (1992), Tactile Stimulation and Consumer Response, Journal of Consumer Research, p 449 – 457
  6. Nishiyama K., (2000), Doing Business With Japan: Successful Strategies for Intercultural Communication, University of Hawai Press, p. 26-28


Author: Maciej Plęskowski