The pantomime of persuasion: Fit between nonverbal communication and influence strategies

Bob M. Fennis*, Marielle Stel

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


How can we be more successful in persuading others and increase the odds of behavioral compliance? We argue that when a verbal influence strategy is embedded in a nonverbal style that fits its orientation, this boosts the strategy's effectiveness, whereas a misfit attenuates its impact. In field-experiment 1, agents tried to persuade participants in buying a candybox by using an approach-oriented strategy (Door-In-The-Face, DITF). An eager nonverbal style increased the impact of the DITF, whereas vigilant nonverbal cues rendered it ineffective. Conversely, field-experiment 2 showed that an avoidance-oriented strategy (Disrupt-Then-Reframe) benefited from being presented in a vigilant, rather than an eager nonverbal style, which similarly attenuated its impact. Hence, eager nonverbal cues promote the effectiveness of approach-oriented influence strategies whereas vigilant cues do the opposite and increase the impact of avoidance-oriented influence strategies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)806-810
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of experimental social psychology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2011


  • Compliance-gaining
  • Nonverbal communication
  • Persuasion
  • Social influence


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