How we change what others think, feel, believe and do
Touching is a very common pattern in body language. Touching the face in particular is often very significant, including:
Touching other parts of the body can also be notable, including:
You can also touch the other person in friendship or with romantic intent. Touching others may also be a power play.
Lots of places, including:
Touching oneself is often a sign of uncertainty or discomfort. It is as if the person is reassuring themselves, using their own hands in place of the hands of a non-present parent or friend.
Touching can similarly be an affirmation of the identity. 'I can feel myself, therefore I exist!'
When a person is stressed their muscles become tense and they may sweat and itch. They may thus rub the areas affected. Lying is often a stressful activity and thus rubbing can be an indicator. It can also mean the person is worried about something else or is just hot.
Covering such as the mouth, nose, eyes and ears often means 'I do not want to use these' and indicates the person would rather be elsewhere or they are holding themselves back from potentially harmful action.
Touching a friend affirms their identity and forms a physical bond. Holding them close emphasizes this.
Touching other people with whom you are not comfortably familiar can be a sign of power ('I can break social rules and you can't do anything about it!').
Touching varies greatly across cultures, for example in parts of South-East Asia, the head (particularly of others) is considered to contain the spirit and hence must not be touched. Touching in greeting rituals also varies hugely across cultures.