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September 1966

Greeting as a Trial Approval

Author Affiliations

From the New York School of Psychiatry, New York.

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1966;15(3):256-259. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1966.01730150032005

THE FIRST thing people do when they meet is to exchange greetings. In doing so they are only vaguely aware of the age-old behavioral processes built into our genes and our cultural habits, of all that reverberates in this initial trying out of who and what the other fellow is. Yet it is precisely in this probing at the initial encounter of personal worlds that the mystery of our separateness and our uniqueness comes to the fore.

Even before the expressed ritual of salutation, there already exists a cluster of expectations and anticipations as to how the other fellow will react. This makes us bad witnesses of our own greeting ceremonial because we always see the world in a subjective, prejudiced light. It is our prejudices that make us "hallucinate," as it were, the way other people react and behave toward us. This is equally true when meeting