The Nonverbal Bully: Effects of Shouting and Conversational Distance on Bystanders’ Perceptions

Corey A. Pavlich, Stephen A. Rains, Chris Segrin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


This study examines how nonverbal behavior in the form of conversational distance and volume impacts bystanders’ perceptions of bullying. After watching a bullying scenario on video, participants completed measures regarding their perceptions of the bully, victim, and intentions to intervene. The results revealed an interaction between distance and volume for perceptions of the bully and victim. When they spoke in a normal conversing volume (i.e., 65 decibels), bullies were perceived to be weaker when they stood closer to victims (i.e., 18 inches apart) than when they stood further away (i.e., 4 feet). Victims were perceived as stronger when bullies stood closer and spoke at a normal volume.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)129-141
Number of pages13
JournalCommunication Reports
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2 2017



  • Bullying
  • Nonverbal
  • Paralanguage
  • Proxemics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Communication
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language

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