The Physiological Nature of Caring: Understanding Nonverbal Behavior

  • Anjelica J. HalimEmail author
  • Adriana E. Foster
  • Laura Ayala
  • Erica D. Musser


The evaluation of clinician empathy has traditionally included clinician self-reports, patient assessments, and expert–teacher evaluations with validated instruments. Expert evaluations, in particular, depend heavily on the verbal communication of empathy. In this chapter, we will describe clinicians’ nonverbal cues which are thought to play an important role in the communication of empathy, including facial affective mirroring of the patient, body posture, and other physical markers of positive emotion, and time spent with the patient. Furthermore, we will examine how facial affective behavior and psychophysiological indices of the autonomic nervous system may offer promise into understanding clinicians’ empathetic responding to patients.


Nonverbal empathy Nonverbal communication Interpersonal communication Facial affective communication Body posture Tone of voice Autonomic nervous system Eye contact 


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Authors and Affiliations

  • Anjelica J. Halim
    • 1
    Email author
  • Adriana E. Foster
    • 1
  • Laura Ayala
    • 2
  • Erica D. Musser
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral HealthHerbert Wertheim College of Medicine, Florida International UniversityMiamiUSA
  2. 2.Florida International UniversityMiamiUSA
  3. 3.Center for Children and Families, Department of PsychologyCollege of Arts Sciences and Education, Center for Children and Families, Florida International UniversityMiamiUSA

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