Tuesday, November 28, 2023

The Study Of Body Language

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Body Language For A Good First Impression

Body Language – How to analyze people on sight. Practical psychology.

Your nonverbal signs play a big part in peoples first impression of you. Here are ways to appear trustworthy, engaged, confident, and calm:

  • Have an open posture. Be relaxed, but don’t slouch. Sit or stand upright and place your hands by your sides . Avoid standing with your hands on your hips, as this can communicate aggression or a desire to dominate .
  • Use a firm handshake. But don’t get carried away! You don’t want it to become awkward, aggressive, or painful for the other person.
  • Maintain good eye contact. Try to hold the other person’s gaze for a few seconds at a time. This will show them that you’re sincere and engaged. But avoid turning it into a staring contest! .
  • Avoid touching your face. If you do this while answering questions, it can be seen as a sign of dishonesty . While this isn’t always the case, you should still avoid fiddling with your hair or scratching your nose, so that you convey trustworthiness.
  • Smile! Warm, sincere smiles are attractive, reassuring and infectious!

Figure 6.

for more advice on how to interpret and convey signals effectively.

What Are Some Body Language Examples

Body language can be broken down into 2 major categoriespositive or open body language, and negative or closed body language.

And just like how they sound, these 2 broad categories of cues signal just how open someone is from their external environment. Whether at a networking event talking to a random stranger youve just met, giving a presentation or speech, or on a first date, knowing how to read these cues is key to knowing how receptive others are to you or the situation.

Reading body language is as close to mind reading as we can get.

How To Improve Nonverbal Communication

Nonverbal communication is a rapidly flowing back-and-forth process that requires your full focus on the moment-to-moment experience. If you’re planning what you’re going to say next, checking your phone, or thinking about something else, you’re almost certain to miss nonverbal cues and not fully understand the subtleties of what’s being communicated. As well as being fully present, you can improve how you communicate nonverbally by learning to manage stress and developing your emotional awareness.

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Is Body Language Reliable

The reliability of body language depends on how well a person is able to read the cues offered to him/her. It is hard to say as some signs and their interpretations may be obvious, but with others, there is a possibility that our personal biases come into it as well – and unfortunately, there is no way to control for that.

Turning Behavior Into Numbers

Use Body Language to read minds

When you have a mouse behaving in a particular way, you want to turn that behavior into some numbers that you can analyze, Wiltschko said.

The Microsoft Kinect solved more than the falling infrared light problem. Using computer vision, they pulled the mouse image out of the video depth screen to create a 3-D model of the mouses body as it was moving. Matthew J. Johnson, a study co-author and an HMS research fellow in neurobiology, built a computational model that revealed how various poses and transitions within mouse movements were interrelated.

Thats when the scientists noticed that changes in the mouses posture could be organized into units.

Once the scientists analyzed the mouse-pose data, they realized that the movements were blocks of short, distinct pose sequences that appeared in many contexts, not just fear of the fox.

That immediately made us think of the songbird literature, and by analogy, language: words that dont overlap with each other but happen in sequence over time, Wiltschko said.

In the Neuron paper they describe mouse movements as language, with its own syllables and grammar. When the mouse smells the odor of a fox, it avoids the fox not by creating new behaviors but by turning up the volume on behavioral components it was already using. When the mouse balls itself up to hide from the fox, for example, what changes is the degree to which it uses a pose that is present in other behaviors.

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Observe The Head Movement

The speed at which a person nods their head when you are speaking indicates their patience or lack of. Slow nodding indicates that the person is interested in what you are saying and wants you to continue talking. Fast nodding indicates the person has heard enough and wants you to finish speaking or give him or her a turn to speak. Tilting the head sideways during conversation can be a sign of interest in what the other person is saying. Tilting the head backward can be a sign of suspicion or uncertainty. People also point with the head or face at people they are interested in or share an affinity with. In groups and meetings, you can tell who the people with power are based on how often people look at them. On the other hand the less-significant people are looked at less often.

How Psychics Know So Much

To demonstrate the point, here now is a psychic reading for you personally. Imagine you’ve come to a dimly lit, smoke-filled room where a jewel-encrusted psychic wearing a turban is seated at a low, moon-shaped table with a crystal ball:

I’m glad you’ve come to this session and I can see you have things that are troubling you because I am receiving strong signals from you. I sense that the things you really want out of life sometimes seem unrealiztic and you often wonder whether you can achieve them. I also sense that at times you are friendly, social and outgoing to others, but that at other times you are withdrawn, reserved and cautious. You take pride in being an independent thinker but also know not to accept what you see and hear from others, without proof. You like change and variety but become restless if controlled by restrictions and routine. You want to share your innermost feelings with those closest to you but have found it unwise to be too open and revealing. A man in your life with the initial ‘S’ is exerting a strong influence over you right now and a woman who is born in November will contact you in the next month with an exciting offer. While you appear disciplined and controlled on the outside, you tend to be concerned and worried on the inside and at times you wonder whether or not you have made the right choice or decision.

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How Can You Tell If Someone Is Attracted To You

If a person repeatedly touches your arm, places a light hand on your shoulder, or knocks elbows with you, the person is attracted to you and is demonstrating this with increased touch. People interested in each other smile more, and their mouths may even be slightly open. Engaging in eye contact is another indication. A person who leans towards you or mirrors your body language is also demonstrating interest.

Motor Signs In Emotional Communication

Body Language Fundamentals – Lesson 1

The majority of studies that investigated the neural mechanism of hand gesture processing focused on the overlapping activations of words and gestures during their semantic comprehension and integration. However, it was shown that, gestural stimuli can convey more than semantic information, since they can also express emotional message. A first example came from the study of Shaver et al. which tried to identify behavioral prototype related to emotions . More recently, Givens showed that uplifted palms postures suggest a vulnerable or non-aggressive pose toward a conspecific.

However, beyond hand gestures investigations, emerging research about the role of motor system in emotion perception dealt with the study of mechanisms underlying body postures and facial gestures perception . Of note, specific connections with limbic circuit were found for mouth MNs , evidencing the existence of a distinct pathway linked to the mouth/face motor control and communication/emotions encoding system. These neural evidences are in favor of a role of MM in the evolution and processing of emotional communication through the mouth/facial postures. As actions, gestures and language become messages that are understood by an observer without any cognitive mediation, the observation of a facial expression would be immediately understood because it evokes the same representation in the insula of the individual observing it .

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How Nonverbal Communication Can Go Wrong

What you communicate through your body language and nonverbal signals affects how others see you, how well they like and respect you, and whether or not they trust you. Unfortunately, many people send confusing or negative nonverbal signals without even knowing it. When this happens, both connection and trust in relationships are damaged, as the following examples highlight:


believes he gets along great with his colleagues at work, but if you were to ask any of them, they would say that Jack is intimidating and very intense. Rather than just look at you, he seems to devour you with his eyes. And if he takes your hand, he lunges to get it and then squeezes so hard it hurts. Jack is a caring guy who secretly wishes he had more friends, but his nonverbal awkwardness keeps people at a distance and limits his ability to advance at work.


is attractive and has no problem meeting eligible men, but she has a difficult time maintaining a relationship for longer than a few months. Arlene is funny and interesting, but even though she constantly laughs and smiles, she radiates tension. Her shoulders and eyebrows are noticeably raised, her voice is shrill, and her body is stiff. Being around Arlene makes many people feel anxious and uncomfortable. Arlene has a lot going for her that is undercut by the discomfort she evokes in others.


How Much Of Language Is Nonverbal

Have you heard the statistic about what percentage of communication is nonverbal? Its about 80 percent. Or wait, no, actually its more like 93 percent. Actually, maybe 55 percent? Oh, and then Ray Birdwhistell said that body language made up 60 to 75 percent of conversation. These numbers get thrown around a lot, but it might be more complicated than a percentage can express.

The statistics above are based on a series of studies done in the 60s and 70s by Albert Mehrabian. The study asked people to evaluate the feelings and emotions of a statement based on the way a person speaks, and they gave a percentage to various features. The results said that people based their evaluations of the message 55 percent on body language, 38 percent on tone and only 7 percent on the actual words being said.

This study is often reported as 93 percent of language is nonverbal, but thats not entirely accurate. If you take the words away from a message, you probably will have a hard time understanding what the person is trying to get across. Thats the whole reason the game charades exists.

This doesnt mean body language should be written off. Its certainly a factor in communication, even if its not possible to put an exact number on how big a factor it is.

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From Your Head To Your Toes How To Code And Decode Unconscious Cues

  • With body language, ones entire body participates in showing or hiding their mental state.
  • Even the most seemingly insignificant bodily gestures can provide key signals of your emotions.
  • Learning to control the cues you communicate to others can boost how you look and feel.

We spend our lives learning how to decode other people’s nonverbal cues. While were busy trying to decode their messages, they are also trying to decode ours. There are times when you want other people to know exactly how youre feeling, especially when those feelings are both positive and reciprocated. This isnt always easy to do, particularly if youre not a very emotive type of person. At other times, however, you definitely want to hide your inner feelings. To avoid emotional leakage, you may have to work doubly hard. Depending on the situation, you may need to put on your Lady Gaga-style poker face.

Body language is just thatthe language of the body. You may think that you only show your emotions through your face, but that is only the tip of the iceberg. Your entire body participates in the business of either showing or hiding your mental state.

To control that display means you have to control your body’s cues. This guide will show you how, starting from the top down. By the time youre done, youll have a greater understanding of how even the most seemingly insignificant bodily gestures can provide key signals of your emotions.

Your Head

Your Torso

Your Legs

Your Feet

To Sum It All Up

See If The Other Person Is Mirroring You

Study Body Language

Mirroring involves mimicking the other persons body language. When interacting with someone, check to see if the person mirrors your behavior. For example, if you are sitting at a table with someone and rest an elbow on the table, wait 10 seconds to see if the other person does the same. Another common mirroring gesture involves taking a sip of a drink at the same time. If someone mimics your body language, this is a very good sign that he or she is trying to establish a rapport with you. Try changing your body posture and see if the other person changes theirs similarly.

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What Is Body Language And What Isnt

Body language is used pretty loosely in pop culture. You could say waving to someone counts, and even sign language is technically a use of the body. To avoid generalizations, some researchers might call the field of study around it kinesics instead .

The field of kinesics was essentially invented by American anthropologist Ray Birdwhistell. Staring in the 1950s, he devoted his career to investigating the influence of posture and gesture on communication. While kinesics is not treated exactly as a part of linguistics, Birdwhistell did base his research on the field of descriptive linguistics. Whereas verbal language is built of phonemes , he argued that body language is built of kinemes .

To answer the central question of this article, researchers dont think of body language as an entirely separate language. Instead, it merely supplements meaning. Similar to how you stress a certain word in a sentence to change the sentences meaning I want that vs. I want that you can use bodily movements to accentuate things as well.

The number of factors that can be looked at in kinesics is probably larger than you think. While the most obvious parts of kinesics are movements like rolling your eyes, crossing your arms and sticking up your middle finger, theres more to it. You can look at proxemics, which is how closely people are to each other, or haptics, which is how physical touch is used. This may seem a little obscure, but small differences can have a noticeable effect.

Body Language For Interviews And Negotiations

Body language can also help you to stay calm in situations where emotions run high, such as a negotiation, performance review or interview. Follow these suggestions to defuse tension and show openness:

  • Use mirroring. If you can, subtly mirror the body language of the person you’re talking to. This will make them feel more at ease, and can build rapport . But don’t copy their every gesture or you’ll make them uncomfortable.
  • Relax your body. Maintain the appearance of calm by keeping your hands still and by breathing slowly.
  • Look interested. If you’re asked a complex question, it’s OK to briefly touch your cheek or stroke your chin. It shows you’re reflecting on your answer .

Figure 14.


Body language expert Amy Cuddy recommends striking a “power pose” for two minutes, in private, before a stressful situation. It tricks your body’s hormone levels so you feel more confident and less stressed. Her mantra is, “Fake it till you become it.” Mind Tools Club members and corporate licensees can read our full review of her book “Presence” here .

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What Is The Right Way To Shake Hands

Shake hands firmly while making eye contact, but do not squeeze the persons handyour goal is to make someone feel comfortable, not to assert dominance. It is important to be sensitive to cultural norms: if you receive a weak handshake, it may be that the person comes from a background in which a gentle handshake is the norm.

Readiness For Social Interaction

What Can Body Language Actually Tell Us?

A body language warm up routine consisting of power poses may also be used by people to prepare themselves for a social engagement. Harvard professor Amy Cuddy suggested in 2010 that two minutes of power posing “standing tall, holding your arms out or toward the sky, or standing like Superman, with your hands on hips” could increase confidence, but retracted the advice and stopped teaching it after a 2015 study was unable to replicate the effect.

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Be Mindful Of Your Body Language

Being present and engaged during video conference calls allows you to notice subconscious body language like leaning, slouching or stretching. Even if you are not the presenter during the video call, its important to be aware of your body language and what it is saying to the speaker and meeting participants. Show that youre actively listening by remaining attentive, sitting erect with good posture and giving occasional head nods.

Why It Can Be Easy To Misread

Someone who has a soft or limp handshake – especially a man – is likely to be accused of having a weak character. However if someone has arthritis in their hands it is likely that they will also use a soft handshake to avoid the pain of a strong one. Similarly, artists, musicians, surgeons and those whose occupation is delicate and involves use of their hands generally prefer not to shake hands, but, if they are forced into it, they may use a ‘dead fish’ handshake to protect their hands.

Someone who wears ill-fitting or tight clothing may be unable to use certain gestures, and this can affect their use of body language. Many obese people can’t cross their legs for example. Women who wear short skirts will sit with their legs tightly crossed for protection, but this results in them looking less approachable and less likely to be asked to dance at a nightclub. These circumstances apply to the minority of people, but it is important to consider what effect a person’s physical restrictions or disabilities may have on their body movement.

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