Background info on body language

Messages can be communicated through gestures and touch, by posture, by facial expression and by eye contact. Nonverbal communication can convey a very different message than a verbal conversation. It can tell someone whether they are liked or disliked, interesting or boring. Examples of bad posture include slouching, towering, jaw thrusting and arm crossing. These nonverbal behaviors can indicate feelings and attitudes toward another person.

Socioeconomic status SES is determined by a number of factors such as wealth, occupation and schools attended. SES influences the food we eat, hobbies we participate in and can even have an impact on our health. People with an upper SES background can often be accused of flaunting their status, such as by the types of cars they drive or how many pairs of Manolo Blahniks they have in their closet.

It is easy to guess someone's SES based on their clothing and the size of their home, but what about more subtle clues?

Psychologists Michael W. To test this idea, the researchers videotaped participants as they got to know one another in one-on-one interview sessions. During these taped sessions, the researchers looked for two types of behaviors: disengagement behaviors including fidgeting with personal objects and doodling and engagement behaviors including head nodding, laughing and eye contact.

The results, reported in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, reveal that nonverbal cues can give away a person's SES. The researchers note that this is the first study to show a relation between SES and social engagement behavior. They surmise that people from upper SES backgrounds who are wealthy and have access to prestigious institutions tend to be less dependent on others.

Source: Association for Psychological Science Explore further.

What is Body Language?

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Comprehending Body Language and Mimics: An ERP and Neuroimaging Study on Italian Actors and Viewers

Learn more Your name Note Your email address is used only to let the recipient know who sent the email. Neither your address nor the recipient's address will be used for any other purpose. The information you enter will appear in your e-mail message and is not retained by Medical Xpress in any form. For body language to occur, proximity of the interlocutors is also a factor Reiman Felipe and Sommer warn that over-friendly attitudes are distrusted immediately; Gross advises that "sometimes mere physical closeness especially if accompanied by body contact can be unpleasant and cause us to dislike the person concerned" p.

Paralanguage is also of significance to the study of kinesics. It may be expressed consciously or unconsciously , and includes the pitch , volume , and in some cases, the intonation of the speaker. Of other nonlinguistic factors, one can name appearance; as this can also change physiological reactions, judgments, and interpretations Van Wagner Through your choice of clothing, hairstyle, glasses, accessories etc. In a kinesics study, one must also not lose sight of gender differences as men and women differ greatly in their use of body language.

For example, generally speaking, women are much more bodily expressive, and as such, require a greater amount of movement in order to make a significant impact while speaking, as opposed to men Livingston Tannen lists sex differences between the two. In American culture, men have a tendency to sit or stand with legs apart and hands outward, whereas women tend to keep legs together and hands at their sides.

Women are apt to have better posture than men, and usually sit still more.

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Women are also better than men at interpreting nonverbal gestures. In their study on male and female non-verbal communication, Briton and Hall , found:. Thus, perceived gender differences correlated positively with differences.


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In a study by Tiljander on the analysis of leg postures in relation to the gender and communication situation, the results indicated that women tend to sit in closed postures or with their legs crossed, which is regarded feminine, while men sit in wide positions with their legs spread, which is regarded masculine. However, leg positions alone were not found to be decisive in the messages communicated.

Instead, leg positions remained gender-stereotypical regardless of the message communicated. Men and women seem to use different leg positions when communicating the same message. In his study on the effect of gender differences on detecting deception through non-verbal cues, Fatt found that men hold back leg and foot movements when lying, while women do not. Moreover, investigating the lateralization of processing positive facial emotions in a group of right-handed individuals, Bourne found that males are more strongly lateralized than women in the perception of facial expressions.

As stated earlier, culture influences all aspects of our lives, and body language is not an exception to that either. It involves subjective attitudes, values, beliefs, opinions, behaviors as well as objective clothes, food, architecture etc.

Body Language: What It Is & How To Read It

Triandis Culture is communicated across generations. Communication and culture are strongly intertwined, so much as Fay suggests, "all cultural activity communicates and all communication is culturally-loaded". As with verbal language, culture influences nonverbal behaviors in profound ways Matsumoto n. Morris et al. Ekman and Friesen , on the other hand, present a list of six emotions that they contend are innate and universal.

How To Speak Your Mind & Choosing Body Language On A Date

These include happiness, sadness, fear, anger, disgust, and surprise. Watson classified 30 countries as either a "contact" culture those that facilitate physical touch or contact during interaction or a "non-contact" culture those that are more limited in physical touch or contact during interaction , and found that contact cultures engage in more gazing and have more direct orientations, less interpersonal distance, and more touching when interacting with others.

Waxer examined American and Canadian cultural differences in spontaneous emotional expressions by participants in television game shows and found that Americans tend to be judged as more expressive using more facial expressions than Canadians despite lack of differences in actual behavior. As this study was primarily devoted to the study of body language disparities between Americans and Persians, a closer look at each system seems crucial. Generally speaking, Americans are believed not to be touch oriented Luminita ; Imai ; they generally stand about 30 inches away from each other in normal social situations.

This is considered their personal zone Imai They usually slide into a crowded passageway at sporting events or the theater while facing the people forward ibid. They are offended when not looked directly in the eye while conversing Hyun , and shake hands when they meet their friends, even when they meet for the first time Imai Since the main concern of the present work is the differences and similarities between Persian and American cultures, in the following, we will present some of such congruence and variation between the two cultures.

Based on the literature e. The person is not feeling secure. This study was an attempt to examine the effect of culture and gender on the nonverbal behavior of Persian EFL learners. To do this, the following null hypotheses were developed:. There is no significant difference between the body language of Persian students and that of native speakers of English.


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There is no significant difference between Persian male and female EFL learners in terms of their kinesics. There is no significant difference in using facial expressions as opposed to gestures among Persian EFL learners.

Picking Up and Understanding Nonverbal Signals

Out of the initial sample of students, finally 80 40 male and 40 female second year B. PNU is basically a distance education institution. With campuses for troubleshooting classes all over the country, this university is the largest in Iran, enrolling over a , students per year. All the students study the same textbooks and take the same exams simultaneously nationwide. The role of the teacher is minimized as the textbooks are all self-study material.

This creates optimum situation for research as often a lot of variables that can cause a headache to the researcher are already controlled or eliminated in such a milieu. The subjects were at similar English levels because, as mentioned earlier, they were junior students at this university, and were studying the same text books and passing the same tests. Based on what is stated above, we claim that our sample is relatively homogeneous in terms of proficiency as PNU is a curriculum based distant education university where teacher's role and thereby their variability is minimized.

There are no plenary sessions held, and the students may drop in at certain predetermined times for troubleshooting purposes only. Our research design was quasi-experimental. Thus, the subjects were naturally selected from the oral reproduction classes held by the English translation department. This is to say a whole class was taken into consideration, and we did not pull out students from the classes to which they were accustomed as we feared doing so and changing the environment could negatively affect the kinesic performance of the subjects, thereby rendering it unnatural.

Thus, all the students who had taken the undergraduate course "Oral Reproduction of Short Stories II" at the university in that semester were taken into our study as participants. One important point deserves attention here: Because of the requirements of the present study, and on the basis of our objectives, only oral story reproduction classes were selected from the English courses available at PNU. This is because, as will be explained below, chances of using body language are maximized in this course.

The subjects were chosen in their intact groups rather than as individuals to ensure that a change in the classroom atmosphere will not impact their kinesic performance. Thus, our sample was chosen using the cluster random sampling approach, which is "the selection of groups e. Based on our research questions, and the quasi-experimental structure of the study, certain instruments were used to collect the data. These included: 1 performance observation sheets and 2 body language checklists.