Nonverbal communication
Overview
Nonverbal communication is usually understood as the process of communication
Communication
Communication is the activity of conveying meaningful information. Communication requires a sender, a message, and an intended recipient, although the receiver need not be present or aware of the sender's intent to communicate at the time of communication; thus communication can occur across vast...

 through sending and receiving word
Word
In language, a word is the smallest free form that may be uttered in isolation with semantic or pragmatic content . This contrasts with a morpheme, which is the smallest unit of meaning but will not necessarily stand on its own...

less (mostly visual) messages. Messages can be communicated through gestures and touch (Haptic communication
Haptic communication
Haptic communication is the means by which people and other animals communicate via touching. Touch, or the haptic sense, is extremely important for humans; as well as providing information about surfaces and textures it is a component of nonverbal communication in interpersonal relationships, and...

), by body language
Body language
Body language is a form of non-verbal communication, which consists of body posture, gestures, facial expressions, and eye movements. Humans send and interpret such signals almost entirely subconsciously....

 or posture
Human position
Human positions refers to the different positions that the human body can take.There are several synonyms that refer to the human position, often used interchangeably, but having specific flavors....

, by facial expression
Facial expression
A facial expression one or more motions or positions of the muscles in the skin. These movements convey the emotional state of the individual to observers. Facial expressions are a form of nonverbal communication. They are a primary means of conveying social information among humans, but also occur...

 and eye contact
Eye contact
Eye contact is a meeting of the eyes between two individuals.In human beings, eye contact is a form of nonverbal communication and is thought to have a large influence on social behavior. Coined in the early to mid-1960s, the term has come in the West to often define the act as a meaningful and...

. Meaning can also be communicated through object or artifacts
Artifact (archaeology)
An artifact or artefact is "something made or given shape by man, such as a tool or a work of art, esp an object of archaeological interest"...

 (such as clothing
Clothing
Clothing refers to any covering for the human body that is worn. The wearing of clothing is exclusively a human characteristic and is a feature of nearly all human societies...

, hairstyles or architecture
Architecture
Architecture is both the process and product of planning, designing and construction. Architectural works, in the material form of buildings, are often perceived as cultural and political symbols and as works of art...

). Speech
Speech
Speech is the human faculty of speaking.It may also refer to:* Public speaking, the process of speaking to a group of people* Manner of articulation, how the body parts involved in making speech are manipulated...

 contains nonverbal elements known as paralanguage
Paralanguage
Paralanguage refers to the non-verbal elements of communication used to modify meaning and convey emotion. Paralanguage may be expressed consciously or unconsciously, and it includes the pitch, volume, and, in some cases, intonation of speech. Sometimes the definition is restricted to...

, including voice
Voice
Voice may refer to:* Human voice* Voice control or voice activation* Writer's voice* Voice acting* Voice vote* Voice message-In film:* Voice , a 2005 South Korean film* The Voice , a 2010 Turkish horror film directed by Ümit Ünal...

 quality, rate
Rate
In mathematics, a rate is a ratio between two measurements, often with different units. If the unit or quantity in respect of which something is changing is not specified, usually the rate is per unit time. However, a rate of change can be specified per unit time, or per unit of length or mass or...

, pitch
Pitch
Pitch may refer to:* Pitch , a viscous substance produced by plants or formed from petroleum* Pitch * sales pitch** elevator pitch, a very short sales pitch such as that made during an elevator ride* Pitch accent-Music and acoustics:...

, volume
Volume
Volume is the quantity of three-dimensional space enclosed by some closed boundary, for example, the space that a substance or shape occupies or contains....

, and speaking style, as well as prosodic
Prosody (linguistics)
In linguistics, prosody is the rhythm, stress, and intonation of speech. Prosody may reflect various features of the speaker or the utterance: the emotional state of the speaker; the form of the utterance ; the presence of irony or sarcasm; emphasis, contrast, and focus; or other elements of...

 features such as rhythm
Rhythm
Rhythm may be generally defined as a "movement marked by the regulated succession of strong and weak elements, or of opposite or different conditions." This general meaning of regular recurrence or pattern in time may be applied to a wide variety of cyclical natural phenomena having a periodicity or...

, intonation
Intonation (linguistics)
In linguistics, intonation is variation of pitch while speaking which is not used to distinguish words. It contrasts with tone, in which pitch variation does distinguish words. Intonation, rhythm, and stress are the three main elements of linguistic prosody...

 and stress
Stress (linguistics)
In linguistics, stress is the relative emphasis that may be given to certain syllables in a word, or to certain words in a phrase or sentence. The term is also used for similar patterns of phonetic prominence inside syllables. The word accent is sometimes also used with this sense.The stress placed...

.
Encyclopedia
Nonverbal communication is usually understood as the process of communication
Communication
Communication is the activity of conveying meaningful information. Communication requires a sender, a message, and an intended recipient, although the receiver need not be present or aware of the sender's intent to communicate at the time of communication; thus communication can occur across vast...

 through sending and receiving word
Word
In language, a word is the smallest free form that may be uttered in isolation with semantic or pragmatic content . This contrasts with a morpheme, which is the smallest unit of meaning but will not necessarily stand on its own...

less (mostly visual) messages. Messages can be communicated through gestures and touch (Haptic communication
Haptic communication
Haptic communication is the means by which people and other animals communicate via touching. Touch, or the haptic sense, is extremely important for humans; as well as providing information about surfaces and textures it is a component of nonverbal communication in interpersonal relationships, and...

), by body language
Body language
Body language is a form of non-verbal communication, which consists of body posture, gestures, facial expressions, and eye movements. Humans send and interpret such signals almost entirely subconsciously....

 or posture
Human position
Human positions refers to the different positions that the human body can take.There are several synonyms that refer to the human position, often used interchangeably, but having specific flavors....

, by facial expression
Facial expression
A facial expression one or more motions or positions of the muscles in the skin. These movements convey the emotional state of the individual to observers. Facial expressions are a form of nonverbal communication. They are a primary means of conveying social information among humans, but also occur...

 and eye contact
Eye contact
Eye contact is a meeting of the eyes between two individuals.In human beings, eye contact is a form of nonverbal communication and is thought to have a large influence on social behavior. Coined in the early to mid-1960s, the term has come in the West to often define the act as a meaningful and...

. Meaning can also be communicated through object or artifacts
Artifact (archaeology)
An artifact or artefact is "something made or given shape by man, such as a tool or a work of art, esp an object of archaeological interest"...

 (such as clothing
Clothing
Clothing refers to any covering for the human body that is worn. The wearing of clothing is exclusively a human characteristic and is a feature of nearly all human societies...

, hairstyles or architecture
Architecture
Architecture is both the process and product of planning, designing and construction. Architectural works, in the material form of buildings, are often perceived as cultural and political symbols and as works of art...

). Speech
Speech
Speech is the human faculty of speaking.It may also refer to:* Public speaking, the process of speaking to a group of people* Manner of articulation, how the body parts involved in making speech are manipulated...

 contains nonverbal elements known as paralanguage
Paralanguage
Paralanguage refers to the non-verbal elements of communication used to modify meaning and convey emotion. Paralanguage may be expressed consciously or unconsciously, and it includes the pitch, volume, and, in some cases, intonation of speech. Sometimes the definition is restricted to...

, including voice
Voice
Voice may refer to:* Human voice* Voice control or voice activation* Writer's voice* Voice acting* Voice vote* Voice message-In film:* Voice , a 2005 South Korean film* The Voice , a 2010 Turkish horror film directed by Ümit Ünal...

 quality, rate
Rate
In mathematics, a rate is a ratio between two measurements, often with different units. If the unit or quantity in respect of which something is changing is not specified, usually the rate is per unit time. However, a rate of change can be specified per unit time, or per unit of length or mass or...

, pitch
Pitch
Pitch may refer to:* Pitch , a viscous substance produced by plants or formed from petroleum* Pitch * sales pitch** elevator pitch, a very short sales pitch such as that made during an elevator ride* Pitch accent-Music and acoustics:...

, volume
Volume
Volume is the quantity of three-dimensional space enclosed by some closed boundary, for example, the space that a substance or shape occupies or contains....

, and speaking style, as well as prosodic
Prosody (linguistics)
In linguistics, prosody is the rhythm, stress, and intonation of speech. Prosody may reflect various features of the speaker or the utterance: the emotional state of the speaker; the form of the utterance ; the presence of irony or sarcasm; emphasis, contrast, and focus; or other elements of...

 features such as rhythm
Rhythm
Rhythm may be generally defined as a "movement marked by the regulated succession of strong and weak elements, or of opposite or different conditions." This general meaning of regular recurrence or pattern in time may be applied to a wide variety of cyclical natural phenomena having a periodicity or...

, intonation
Intonation (linguistics)
In linguistics, intonation is variation of pitch while speaking which is not used to distinguish words. It contrasts with tone, in which pitch variation does distinguish words. Intonation, rhythm, and stress are the three main elements of linguistic prosody...

 and stress
Stress (linguistics)
In linguistics, stress is the relative emphasis that may be given to certain syllables in a word, or to certain words in a phrase or sentence. The term is also used for similar patterns of phonetic prominence inside syllables. The word accent is sometimes also used with this sense.The stress placed...

. Likewise, written texts have nonverbal elements such as handwriting
Handwriting
Handwriting is a person's particular & individual style of writing with pen or pencil, which contrasts with "Hand" which is an impersonal and formalised writing style in several historical varieties...

 style, spatial arrangement of words, or the physical layout of a page. Dance
Dance
Dance is an art form that generally refers to movement of the body, usually rhythmic and to music, used as a form of expression, social interaction or presented in a spiritual or performance setting....

 is also regarded as a form of nonverbal communication.

However, much of the study of nonverbal communication has focused on face-to-face interaction
Interaction
Interaction is a kind of action that occurs as two or more objects have an effect upon one another. The idea of a two-way effect is essential in the concept of interaction, as opposed to a one-way causal effect...

, where it can be classified into three principal areas: environmental conditions where communication takes place, physical characteristics of the communicators, and behaviors of communicators during interaction.

Verbal versus oral communication

Scholars in the field of nonverbal communication usually use a strict sense of the term "verbal", meaning "of or concerned with words", and do not use "verbal communication" as a synonym for oral communication. Sign language
Sign language
A sign language is a language which, instead of acoustically conveyed sound patterns, uses visually transmitted sign patterns to convey meaning—simultaneously combining hand shapes, orientation and movement of the hands, arms or body, and facial expressions to fluidly express a speaker's...

s and writing
Writing
Writing is the representation of language in a textual medium through the use of a set of signs or symbols . It is distinguished from illustration, such as cave drawing and painting, and non-symbolic preservation of language via non-textual media, such as magnetic tape audio.Writing most likely...

 are generally understood as forms of verbal communication, as both make use of words — although like speech, both may contain paralinguistic elements and often occur alongside nonverbal messages. Nonverbal communication (and learning based on such communication) can occur through any sensory
Sensory system
A sensory system is a part of the nervous system responsible for processing sensory information. A sensory system consists of sensory receptors, neural pathways, and parts of the brain involved in sensory perception. Commonly recognized sensory systems are those for vision, hearing, somatic...

 channel
Channel (communications)
In telecommunications and computer networking, a communication channel, or channel, refers either to a physical transmission medium such as a wire, or to a logical connection over a multiplexed medium such as a radio channel...

 — sight
Visual perception
Visual perception is the ability to interpret information and surroundings from the effects of visible light reaching the eye. The resulting perception is also known as eyesight, sight, or vision...

, sound
Sound
Sound is a mechanical wave that is an oscillation of pressure transmitted through a solid, liquid, or gas, composed of frequencies within the range of hearing and of a level sufficiently strong to be heard, or the sensation stimulated in organs of hearing by such vibrations.-Propagation of...

, smell
Olfaction
Olfaction is the sense of smell. This sense is mediated by specialized sensory cells of the nasal cavity of vertebrates, and, by analogy, sensory cells of the antennae of invertebrates...

, touch
Somatosensory system
The somatosensory system is a diverse sensory system composed of the receptors and processing centres to produce the sensory modalities such as touch, temperature, proprioception , and nociception . The sensory receptors cover the skin and epithelia, skeletal muscles, bones and joints, internal...

, proprioceptive or kinesthetic channel or taste
Taste
Taste is one of the traditional five senses. It refers to the ability to detect the flavor of substances such as food, certain minerals, and poisons, etc....

. Nonverbal communication is important as:

"When we speak (or listen), our attention is focused on words rather than body language. But our judgment includes both. An audience is simultaneously processing both verbal and nonverbal cues. Body movements are not usually positive or negative in and of themselves; rather, the situation and the message will determine the appraisal." (Givens, 2000, p. 4)

History

The first scientific study of nonverbal communication was Charles Darwin
Charles Darwin
Charles Robert Darwin FRS was an English naturalist. He established that all species of life have descended over time from common ancestry, and proposed the scientific theory that this branching pattern of evolution resulted from a process that he called natural selection.He published his theory...

's book The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals (1872). He argued that all mammals reliably show emotion in their faces. Seventy years later Silvan Tomkins
Silvan Tomkins
Silvan Solomon Tomkins is best known as a psychologist and personality theorist and as the developer of Affect theory and Script theory...

 (1911-1991) began his classic studies on human emotions in Affects Imagery Consciousness volumes 1-4. Rudolf Laban
Rudolf Laban
Rudolf von Laban aka Rudolf Laban was a dance artist and theorist whose work laid the foundations for Laban Movement Analysis and other more specific developments in dance notation...

 (1879-1958) and Warren Lamb
Warren Lamb
Warren Lamb, born in England, is a management consultant, teacher and lecturer. He is a pioneer in the field of nonverbal behavior, having created Movement Pattern Analysis, a motivational assessment tool based on movement observation.-Early life:...

 (1923-) raised body movement analysis in the world of dance to a high level. Studies now range across a number of fields, including, linguistics
Linguistics
Linguistics is the scientific study of human language. Linguistics can be broadly broken into three categories or subfields of study: language form, language meaning, and language in context....

, semiotics
Semiotics
Semiotics, also called semiotic studies or semiology, is the study of signs and sign processes , indication, designation, likeness, analogy, metaphor, symbolism, signification, and communication...

 and social psychology
Social psychology
Social psychology is the scientific study of how people's thoughts, feelings, and behaviors are influenced by the actual, imagined, or implied presence of others. By this definition, scientific refers to the empirical method of investigation. The terms thoughts, feelings, and behaviors include all...

.

Characteristics of nonverbal communication

  1. Non-verbal messages primarily communicate emotions, attitude
    Attitude
    -Science and engineering:* Attitude as orientation of a geometric figure, such as a line, plane or rigid body* Attitude as strike or dip of a layer of rock in geology* Attitude of a wing or aircraft relative to airflow...

    s.
  2. Non-verbal cues substitute for, contradict, emphasize or regulate verbal message.
  3. Non-verbal cues are often ambiguous.
  4. Non-verbal cues are continuous.
  5. Non-verbal cues are more reliable.
  6. Non-verbal cues are culture bound.
  7. Non-verbal behavior always has communicative value.
  8. Non-verbal communication is powerful.

Clothing and bodily characteristics

Nonverbal elements such as physique, height, weight, hair, skin color, gender, odors, and clothing send nonverbal messages during interaction. For example, a study, carried out in Vienna
Vienna
Vienna is the capital and largest city of the Republic of Austria and one of the nine states of Austria. Vienna is Austria's primary city, with a population of about 1.723 million , and is by far the largest city in Austria, as well as its cultural, economic, and political centre...

, Austria
Austria
Austria , officially the Republic of Austria , is a landlocked country of roughly 8.4 million people in Central Europe. It is bordered by the Czech Republic and Germany to the north, Slovakia and Hungary to the east, Slovenia and Italy to the south, and Switzerland and Liechtenstein to the...

, of the clothing worn by women attending discotheques showed that in certain groups of women (especially women who were without their partners), motivation for sex and levels of sexual hormones were correlated with aspects of their clothing, especially the amount of skin displayed and the presence of sheer clothing. Thus, to some degree, clothing sends signals about interest in courtship.

Research into height has generally found that taller people are perceived as being more impressive. Melamed and Bozionelos (1992) studied a sample of managers in the United Kingdom and found that height was a key factor in who was promoted.

Physical environment

Environmental factors such as furniture
Furniture
Furniture is the mass noun for the movable objects intended to support various human activities such as seating and sleeping in beds, to hold objects at a convenient height for work using horizontal surfaces above the ground, or to store things...

, architectural style, interior decorating, lighting conditions, colors, temperature, noise, and music affect the behavior of communicators during interaction. Furniture itself can be seen as a nonverbal message

Proxemics: physical space in communication

Proxemics
Proxemics
Proxemics is the study of measurable distances between people as they interact. The term was introduced by anthropologist Edward T. Hall in 1966...

 is the study of how people use and perceive the physical space around them. The space between the sender and the receiver of a message influences the way the message is interpreted. In addition, the perception and use of space varies significantly across cultures and different settings within cultures. Space in nonverbal communication may be divided into four main categories: intimate, social, personal, and public space.

The term territoriality is used in the study of proxemics to explain human behavior regarding personal space. Hargie & Dickson (2004, p. 69) identify 4 such territories:
  1. Primary territory: This refers to an area that is associated with someone who has exclusive use of it. An example is a house that others cannot enter without the owner’s permission.
  2. Secondary territory: Unlike primary territory, there is no “right” to occupancy of secondary territory, but people may still feel some degree of ownership of such space as they develop the custom of occupying it. For example, someone may sit in the same seat in church every week and feel irritated if someone else sits there.
  3. Public territory: this refers to an area that is available to all, but only for a set period, such as a parking space or a seat in a library. Although people have only a limited claim over that space, they often extend that claim. For example, it was found that people take longer to leave a parking space when someone is waiting to take that space.
  4. Interaction territory: this is space held by others when they are interacting. For example, when a group is talking to each other on a footpath, others will walk around the group rather than disturb their interaction territory.

Chronemics: time in communication

Chronemics
Chronemics
Chronemics is the study of the use of time in nonverbal communication. The way we perceive time, structure our time and react to time is a powerful communication tool, and helps set the stage for the communication process. Across cultures, time perception plays a large role in the nonverbal...

 is the study of the use of time in nonverbal communication. The way we perceive time, structure our time and react to time is a powerful communication tool and helps set the stage for communication. Time perceptions include punctuality
Punctuality
Punctuality is the characteristic of being able to complete a required task or fulfill an obligation before or at a previously designated time. "Punctual" is often used synonymously with "on time."...

 and the willingness to wait, plus the speed of speech and how long people are willing to listen. The timing and frequency of an action as well as the tempo and rhythm of communications within an interaction contributes to the interpretation of nonverbal messages. Gudykunst & Ting-Toomey (1988) identified two dominant time patterns: monochronic time and polychronic time.

Monochronic Time

A monochronic time system means that things are done one at a time and time is segmented into precise, small units. Under this system time is scheduled, arranged and managed.

The United States is considered a monochronic society. This perception of time is learned and rooted in the Industrial Revolution, where "factory life required the labor force to be on hand and in place at an appointed hour" (Guerrero, DeVito & Hecht, 1999, p. 238). For Americans, time is a precious resource not to be wasted or taken lightly. "We buy time, save time, spend time and make time. Our time can be broken down into years, months, days, hours, minutes, seconds and even milliseconds. We use time to structure both our daily lives and events that we are planning for the future. We have schedules that we must follow: appointments that we must go to at a certain time, classes that start and end at certain times, work schedules that start and end at certain times, and even our favorite TV shows, that start and end at a certain time.”

As communication scholar Edward T. Hall wrote regarding the American viewpoint of time in the business world, “the schedule is sacred.” Hall says that for monochronic cultures, “time is tangible” and viewed as a commodity where “time is money” or “time is wasted.” The result of this perspective is that Americans and other monochronic cultures, such as the German and Swiss, place a paramount value on schedules, tasks and “getting the job done.” These cultures are committed to regimented schedules and may view those who do not subscribe to the same perception of time as disrespectful.

Monochronic cultures include Germany, Canada, Switzerland, the United States, and Scandinavia.

Polychronic Time

A polychronic time system is a system where several things can be done at once, and a more fluid approach is taken to scheduling time. Unlike European-Americans and most northern and western European cultures, Native American, Latin American, Arab and African cultures use the polychronic system of time.

These cultures are much less focused on the preciseness of accounting for each and every moment. As Raymond Cohen notes, polychronic cultures are deeply steeped in tradition rather than in tasks—a clear difference from their monochronic counterparts. Cohen notes that "Traditional societies have all the time in the world. The arbitrary divisions of the clock face have little saliency in cultures grounded in the cycle of the seasons, the invariant pattern of rural life, and the calendar of religious festivities" (Cohen, 1997, p. 34).

Instead, their culture is more focused on relationships, rather than watching the clock. They have no problem being “late” for an event if they are with family or friends, because the relationship is what really matters. As a result, polychronic cultures have a much less formal perception of time. They are not ruled by precise calendars and schedules. Rather, “cultures that use the polychronic time system often schedule multiple appointments simultaneously so keeping on schedule is an impossibility.” [2]

Polychronic cultures include Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Mexico, the Philippines, India, and many in Africa.

Kinesics

The term "kinesics
Kinesics
Kinesics is the interpretation of body language such as facial expressions and gestures — or, more formally, non-verbal behavior related to movement, either of any part of the body or the body as a whole.-Birdwhistell's work:...

" was first used (in 1952) by Ray Birdwhistell
Ray Birdwhistell
Ray Birdwhistell was an American anthropologist who founded kinesics as a field of inquiry and research. The term kinesics was originally coined by Birdwhistell, and he also proposed the term kineme....

, an anthropologist who wished to study how people communicate through posture, gesture, stance, and movement. Part of Birdwhistell's work involved making films of people in social situations and analyzing them to show different levels of communication not clearly seen otherwise. Several other anthropologists, including Margaret Mead
Margaret Mead
Margaret Mead was an American cultural anthropologist, who was frequently a featured writer and speaker in the mass media throughout the 1960s and 1970s....

 and Gregory Bateson
Gregory Bateson
Gregory Bateson was an English anthropologist, social scientist, linguist, visual anthropologist, semiotician and cyberneticist whose work intersected that of many other fields. He had a natural ability to recognize order and pattern in the universe...

, also studied kinesics.

Posture

Posture
Posture (psychology)
In humans, posture can provide important nonverbal communication. Posture deals with:* how the body is positioned in relation to another person or group of persons and how they are positioned relative to each other various body parts In humans, posture can provide important nonverbal...

 is understood through such indicators as direction of lean, body orientation, arm position, and body openness. It can be used to determine a participant’s degree of attention or involvement, the difference in status between communicators, and the level of fondness a person has for the other communicator. Studies investigating the impact of posture on interpersonal relationships suggest that mirror-image congruent postures, where one person’s left side is parallel to the other person’s right side, leads to favorable perception of communicators and positive speech; a person who displays a forward lean or decreases a backward lean also signifies positive sentiment during communication.

Gesture

A gesture
Gesture
A gesture is a form of non-verbal communication in which visible bodily actions communicate particular messages, either in place of speech or together and in parallel with spoken words. Gestures include movement of the hands, face, or other parts of the body...

 is a non-vocal bodily movement intended to express meaning. Gestures may be made with the hands, arms or body, and also include movements of the head, face and eyes, such as wink
Wink
A wink is a facial expression made by briefly closing one eye. A wink is an informal mode of non-verbal communication usually signalling shared hidden knowledge or intent, which may also include, in some contexts, sexual attraction....

ing, nodding, or rolling one's eyes. The boundary between language and gesture, or verbal and nonverbal communication, can be hard to identify.

Although the study of gesture is still in its infancy, some broad categories of gestures have been identified by researchers. The most familiar are the so-called emblems or quotable gestures. These are conventional, culture-specific gestures that can be used as replacement for words, such as the hand wave used in western cultures for "hello" and "goodbye." A single emblematic gesture can have a very different significance in different cultural contexts, ranging from complimentary to highly offensive.[9] For a list of emblematic gestures, see List of gestures.

Another broad category of gestures comprises those gestures used spontaneously when we speak. These gestures are closely coordinated with speech. The so-called "beat gestures" are used in conjunction with speech and keep time with the rhythm of speech to emphasize certain words or phrases. These types of gestures are integrally connected to speech and thought processes.[10] Other spontaneous gestures used when we speak may echo or elaborate the meaning of the speech occurring at the same time. For example, a gesture that depicts the act of throwing may be synchronous with the utterance, "He threw the ball right into the window."[10]

Gestural languages such as sign language for the deaf operate as complete natural languages. They should not be confused with finger spelling, in which a set of emblematic gestures are used to represent a written alphabet.

Gestures can also be categorized as either speech independent or speech related. Speech-independent gestures are dependent upon culturally accepted interpretation and have a direct verbal translation. A wave or a [V_sign| peace sign] are examples of speech-independent gestures. Speech-related gestures are used in parallel with verbal speech; this form of nonverbal communication is used to emphasize the message that is being communicated. Speech-related gestures are intended to provide supplemental information to a verbal message such as pointing to an object of discussion.

Gestures such as mudras
Mudra
A mudrā is a symbolic or ritual gesture in Hinduism and Buddhism. While some mudrās involve the entire body, most are performed with the hands and fingers...

 encode sophisticated information accessible to initiates that are privy to the subtlety of elements encoded in their tradition.

Haptics: touching in communication

Haptics
Haptic communication
Haptic communication is the means by which people and other animals communicate via touching. Touch, or the haptic sense, is extremely important for humans; as well as providing information about surfaces and textures it is a component of nonverbal communication in interpersonal relationships, and...

 is the study of touching as nonverbal communication, and haptic communication refers to how people and other animals communicate via touching.

Touches among humans that can be defined as communication include handshake
Handshake
A handshake is a short ritual in which two people grasp one of each other's like hands, in most cases accompanied by a brief up and down movement of the grasped hands.-History:...

s, holding hands, kissing (cheek, lips, hand), back slapping, high five
High five
The high five is a celebratory hand gesture that occurs when two people simultaneously raise one hand, about head high, and push, slide or slap the flat of their palm and hand against the palm and flat hand of their partner...

s, a pat on the shoulder, and brushing an arm. Touching of oneself may include licking, picking, holding, and scratching. These behaviors are referred to as "adapters" or "tells" and may send messages that reveal the intentions or feelings of a communicator. The meaning conveyed from touch is highly dependent upon the culture, the context of the situation, the relationship between communicators, and the manner of touch.

Touch is an extremely important sense for humans; as well as providing information about surfaces and textures it is a component of nonverbal communication in interpersonal relationships, and vital in conveying physical intimacy. It can be both sexual (such as kissing) and platonic (such as hugging or tickling).

Touch is the earliest sense to develop in the fetus. The development of an infant's haptic senses and how it relates to the development of the other senses such as vision have been the target of much research. Human babies have been observed to have enormous difficulty surviving if they do not possess a sense of touch, even if they retain sight and hearing. Babies who can perceive through touch, even without sight and hearing, tend to fare much better. Touch can be thought of as a basic sense in that most life forms have a response to being touched, while only a subset have sight and hearing.

In chimpanzees the sense of touch is highly developed. As newborns they see and hear poorly but cling strongly to their mothers. Harry Harlow conducted a controversial study involving rhesus monkeys and observed that monkeys reared with a "terry cloth mother," a wire feeding apparatus wrapped in soft terry cloth that provided a level of tactile stimulation and comfort, were considerably more emotionally stable as adults than those with a mere wire mother.(Harlow,1958)

Touching is treated differently from one country to another and socially acceptable levels of touching vary from one culture to another (Remland, 2009). In Thai culture, for example, touching someone's head may be thought rude. Remland and Jones (1995) studied groups of people communicating and found that touching was rare among the English (8%), the French (5%) and the Dutch (4%) compared to Italians (14%) and Greeks (12.5%).

Striking, pushing, pulling, pinching, kicking, strangling and hand-to-hand fighting are forms of touch in the context of physical abuse. In a sentence like "I never touched him/her" or "Don't you dare touch him/her," the term touch may be meant as a euphemism for either physical abuse or sexual touching. To "touch oneself" is a euphemism for masturbation.

Stoeltje (2003) wrote about how Americans are "losing touch" with this important communication skill. During a study conducted by University of Miami School of Medicine, Touch Research Institutes, American children were said to be more aggressive than their French counterparts while playing at a playground. It was noted that French women touched their children more.

Eye gaze

The study of the role of eyes in nonverbal communication is sometimes referred to as "oculesics". Eye contact
Eye contact
Eye contact is a meeting of the eyes between two individuals.In human beings, eye contact is a form of nonverbal communication and is thought to have a large influence on social behavior. Coined in the early to mid-1960s, the term has come in the West to often define the act as a meaningful and...

, when two people look at each other's eyes at the same time, can indicate interest, attention, and involvement. Studies have found that people use their eyes to indicate their interest and not just with the frequently recognized actions of winking and movements of the eyebrows. Eye contact is a form of nonverbal communication that has a large influence on social behavior. Frequency and interpretation of eye contact vary among cultures and species. Eye aversion is the avoidance of eye contact. Eye contact and facial expressions provide important social and emotional information. People, perhaps without consciously doing so, probe each other's eyes and faces for positive or negative mood signs. Gaze comprises the actions of looking while talking and listening. The length of a gaze, the frequency of glances, patterns of fixation, pupil dilation, and blink rate are all important cues in nonverbal communication.

Paralanguage: nonverbal cues of the voice

Paralanguage
Paralanguage
Paralanguage refers to the non-verbal elements of communication used to modify meaning and convey emotion. Paralanguage may be expressed consciously or unconsciously, and it includes the pitch, volume, and, in some cases, intonation of speech. Sometimes the definition is restricted to...

 (sometimes called vocalics) is the study of nonverbal cues of the voice. Various acoustic properties of speech such as tone, pitch and accent, collectively known as prosody
Prosody (linguistics)
In linguistics, prosody is the rhythm, stress, and intonation of speech. Prosody may reflect various features of the speaker or the utterance: the emotional state of the speaker; the form of the utterance ; the presence of irony or sarcasm; emphasis, contrast, and focus; or other elements of...

, can all give nonverbal cues. Paralanguage may change the meaning of words, for example, from sincere to sarcastic.

The linguist George L. Trager
George L. Trager
George Leonard Trager was an American linguist. He was born March 22, 1906, in Newark, New Jersey; he died on August 31, 1992, in Pasadena, California...

 developed a classification system which consists of the voice set, voice qualities, and vocalization.
  • The voice set is the context in which the speaker is speaking. This can include the situation, gender, mood, age and a person's culture.
  • The voice qualities are volume, pitch, tempo, rhythm, articulation, resonance, nasality, and accent. They give each individual a unique "voice print."
  • Vocalization consists of three subsections: characterizers, qualifiers and segregates. Characterizers are emotions expressed while speaking, such as laughing, crying, and yawning. A voice qualifier is the style of delivering a message - for example, yelling "Hey, stop that!" as opposed to whispering "Hey, stop that." Vocal segregates such as "uh-huh" notify the speaker that the listener is listening.

Functions of nonverbal communication

Argyle (1970) put forward the hypothesis that whereas spoken language is normally used for communicating information about events external to the speakers, non-verbal codes are used to establish and maintain interpersonal relationships. It is considered more polite or nicer to communicate attitudes towards others non-verbally rather than verbally, for instance in order to avoid embarrassing situations.

Argyle (1988) concluded there are five primary functions of nonverbal bodily behavior in human communication:
  • Express emotions
  • Express interpersonal attitudes
  • To accompany speech in managing the cues of interaction between speakers and listeners
  • Self-presentation of one’s personality
  • Rituals (greetings)


In regards to expressing interpersonal attitudes, humans communicate interpersonal closeness through a series of nonverbal actions known as immediacy behaviors. Examples of immediacy behaviors are smiling, touching, open body positions, and eye contact. Cultures that display these immediacy behaviors are considered high-contact cultures.

Concealing deception

Nonverbal communication makes it easier to lie without being revealed. This is the conclusion of a study where people watched made-up interviews of persons accused of having stolen a wallet. The interviewees lied in about 50% of the cases. People had access to either written transcripts of the interviews, or audio tape recordings, or video recordings. The more clues that were available to those watching, the larger was the trend that interviewees who actually lied were judged to be truthful. That is, people that are clever at lying can use voice tone and face expression to give the impression that they are truthful.

However, there are many cited examples of cues to deceit, delivered via nonverbal (paraverbal and visual) communication channels, through which deceivers supposedly unwittingly provide clues to their concealed knowledge or actual opinions
Tell (poker)
A tell in poker is a change in a player's behavior or demeanor that is claimed by some to give clues to that player's assessment of their hand. A player gains an advantage if they observe and understand the meaning of another player's tell, particularly if the tell is unconscious and reliable...

. Most studies examining the nonverbal cues to deceit rely upon human coding of video footage (c.f. Vrij, 2008), although a recent study also demonstrated bodily movement differences between truth-tellers and liars using an automated body motion capture system

The relative importance of verbal and nonverbal communication

An interesting question is: When two people are communicating face-to-face, how much of the meaning is communicated verbally, and how much is communicated non-verbally?
This was investigated by Albert Mehrabian
Albert Mehrabian
Albert Mehrabian , has become known best by his publications on the relative importance of verbal and nonverbal messages...

 and reported in two papers. The latter paper concluded: "It is suggested that the combined effect of simultaneous verbal, vocal, and facial attitude communications is a weighted sum of their independent effects - with coefficients of .07, .38, and .55, respectively." This "rule" that clues from spoken words, from the voice tone, and from the facial expression, contribute 7 %, 38 %, and 55 % respectively to the total meaning, is widely cited. It is presented on all types of popular courses with statements like "scientists have found out that . . . ". In reality, however, it is extremely weakly founded. First, it is based on the judgment of the meaning of single tape-recorded words, i.e. a very artificial context. Second, the figures are obtained by combining results from two different studies which potentially cannot be combined. Third, it relates only to the communication of positive versus negative emotions. Fourth, it relates only to women, as men did not participate in the study.

Since then, other studies have analysed the relative contribution of verbal and nonverbal signals under more naturalistic situations. Argyle, using video tapes shown to the subjects, analysed the communication of submissive/dominant attitude and found that non-verbal cues had 4.3 times the effect of verbal cues. The most important effect was that body posture communicated superior status in a very efficient way. On the other hand, a study by Hsee et al. had subjects judge a person on the dimension happy/sad and found that words spoken with minimal variation in intonation had an impact about 4 times larger than face expressions seen in a film without sound. Thus, the relative importance of spoken words and facial expressions may be very different in studies using different set-ups.

Interaction of verbal and nonverbal communication

When communicating, nonverbal messages can interact with verbal messages in six ways: repeating, conflicting, complementing, substituting, regulating and accenting/moderating.

Repeating

"Repeating" consists of using gestures to strengthen a verbal message, such as pointing to the object of discussion.

Conflicting

Verbal and nonverbal messages within the same interaction can sometimes send opposing or conflicting messages. A person verbally expressing a statement of truth while simultaneously fidgeting or avoiding eye contact may convey a mixed message to the receiver in the interaction. Conflicting messages may occur for a variety of reasons often stemming from feelings of uncertainty, ambivalence, or frustration. When mixed messages occur, nonverbal communication becomes the primary tool people use to attain additional information to clarify the situation; great attention is placed on bodily movements and positioning when people perceive mixed messages during interactions.

Complementing

Accurate interpretation of messages is made easier when nonverbal and verbal communication complement each other. Nonverbal cues can be used to elaborate on verbal messages to reinforce the information sent when trying to achieve communicative goals; messages have been shown to be remembered better when nonverbal signals affirm the verbal exchange.

Substituting

Nonverbal behavior is sometimes used as the sole channel for communication of a message. People learn to identify facial expressions, body movements, and body positioning as corresponding with specific feelings and intentions. Nonverbal signals can be used without verbal communication to convey messages; when nonverbal behavior does not effectively communicate a message, verbal methods are used to enhance understanding.

Regulating

Nonverbal behavior also regulates our conversations. For example, touching someone's arm can signal that you want to talk next or interrupt.

Accenting/Moderating

Nonverbal signals are used to alter the interpretation of verbal messages. Touch, voice pitch, and gestures are some of the tools people use to accent or amplify the message that is sent; nonverbal behavior can also be used to moderate or tone down aspects of verbal messages as well. For example, a person who is verbally expressing anger may accent the verbal message by shaking a fist.

Dance and nonverbal communication

Dance is a form of nonverbal communication that requires the same underlying faculty in the brain for conceptualization, creativity and memory as does verbal language in speaking and writing. Means of self-expression, both forms have vocabulary (steps and gestures in dance), grammar (rules for putting the vocabulary together) and meaning. Dance, however, assembles (choreographs) these elements in a manner that more often resembles poetry, with its ambiguity and multiple, symbolic and elusive meanings.

Clinical studies of nonverbal communication

From 1977 to 2004, the influence of disease and drugs on receptivity of nonverbal communication was studied by teams at three separate medical schools using a similar paradigm. Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh, Yale University and Ohio State University had subjects observe gamblers at a slot machine awaiting payoffs. The amount of this payoff was read by nonverbal transmission prior to reinforcement. This technique was developed by and the studies directed by psychologist, Dr. Robert E. Miller and psychiatrist, Dr. A. James Giannini. These groups reported diminished receptive ability in heroin addicts and phencyclidine abusers was contrasted with increased receptivity in cocaine addicts. Men with major depression manifested significantly decreased ability to read nonverbal cues when compared with euthymic men.

In some subjects tested for ability to read nonverbal cues, intuitive paradigms were apparently employed while in others a cause and effect approach was used. Subjects in the former group answered quickly and before reinforcement occurred. They could not give a rationale for their particular responses. Subjects in the latter category delayed their response and could offer reasons for their choice.The level of accuracy between the two groups did not vary nor did handedness.

Freitas-Magalhaes studied the effect of smile in the treatment of depression and concluded that depressive states decrease when you smile more often.

Obese women and women with premenstrual syndrome were found to also possess diminished abilities to read these cues. In contradistinction, men with bipolar disorder possessed increased abilities. A woman with total paralysis of the nerves of facial expression was found unable to transmit or receive any nonverbal facial cues whatsoever. Because of the changes in levels of accuracy on the levels of nonverbal receptivity, the members of the research team hypothesized a biochemical site in the brain which was operative for reception of nonverbal cues. Because certain drugs enhanced ability while others diminished it, the neurotransmitters dopamine and endorphin were considered to be likely etiological candidate. Based on the available data, however, the primary cause and primary effect could not be sorted out on the basis of the paradigm employed.

A byproduct of the work of the Pittsburgh/Yale/ Ohio State team was an investigation of the role of nonverbal facial cues in heterosexual nondate rape. Males who were serial rapists of adult women were studied for nonverbal receptive abilities. Their scores were the highest of any subgroup. Rape victims were next tested. It was reported that women who had been raped on at least two occasions by different perpetrators had a highly significant impairment in their abilities to read these cues in either male or female senders. These results were troubling, indicating a predator-prey model. The authors did note that whatever the nature of these preliminary findings the responsibility of the rapist was in no manner or level, diminished.

The final target of study for this group was the medical students they taught. Medical students at Ohio State University, Ohio University and Northest Ohio Medical College were invited to serve as subjects. Students indicating a preference for the specialties of family practice, psychiatry, pediatrics and obstetrics-gynecology achieved significantly higher levels of accuracy than those students who planned to train as surgeons, radiologists, or pathologists. Internal medicine and plastic surgery candidates scored at levels near the mean.

Distress

One recent study set out to find how well people could communicate distress signals non-verbally. The research shows that you can identify certain social cues that can help you to predict that person's behavior. This is not always true though. The cues depend on the mindset of the person and cannot be predicted. The study was able to find 55 identifiable distress cues.

Difficulties with nonverbal communication

People vary in their ability to send and receive nonverbal communication. On average, to a moderate degree, women are better at nonverbal communication than are men.
Measurements of the ability to communicate nonverbally and the capacity to feel empathy have shown that the two abilities are independent of each other.

For people who have relatively large difficulties with nonverbal communication, this can pose significant challenges, especially in interpersonal relationships. There exist resources that are tailored specifically to these people, which attempt to assist those in understanding information which comes more easily to others. A specific group of persons that face these challenges are those with autism spectrum disorders, including Asperger syndrome
Asperger syndrome
Asperger's syndrome that is characterized by significant difficulties in social interaction, alongside restricted and repetitive patterns of behavior and interests. It differs from other autism spectrum disorders by its relative preservation of linguistic and cognitive development...

.

See also

  • Albert Mehrabian
    Albert Mehrabian
    Albert Mehrabian , has become known best by his publications on the relative importance of verbal and nonverbal messages...

  • Asemic writing
    Asemic writing
    Asemic writing is a wordless open semantic form of writing. The word asemic means "having no specific semantic content". With the nonspecificity of asemic writing there comes a vacuum of meaning which is left for the reader to fill in and interpret. All of this is similar to the way one would...

  • Behavioral communication
    Behavioral communication
    Behavioral Communication is a psychological construct that addresses people's use of day-to-day behaviors as a form of communication. Specifically, it refers to people's tendency to express feelings, needs, and thoughts by means of indirect messages and behavioral impacts.Basically, any behavior ...

  • Body language
    Body language
    Body language is a form of non-verbal communication, which consists of body posture, gestures, facial expressions, and eye movements. Humans send and interpret such signals almost entirely subconsciously....

  • Chinese number gestures
    Chinese number gestures
    Chinese number gestures are a method of using one hand to signify the natural numbers one through ten. This method may have been developed to bridge the many varieties of Chinese—for example, the numbers 4 and 10 are hard to distinguish in some dialects...

  • Desmond Morris
    Desmond Morris
    Desmond John Morris, born 24 January 1928 in Purton, north Wiltshire, is a British zoologist and ethologist, as well as a popular anthropologist. He is also known as a painter, television presenter and popular author.-Life:...

  • Doctrine of mental reservation
    Doctrine of mental reservation
    The doctrine of mental reservation, or the doctrine of mental equivocation, was a special branch of casuistry developed in the late Middle Ages and the Renaissance, and most often associated with the Jesuits.- Secular use :...

  • Forgetfulness
  • Intercultural competence
    Intercultural competence
    Intercultural competence is the ability of successful communication with people of other cultures.A person who is interculturally competent captures and understands, in interaction with people from foreign cultures, their specific concepts in perception, thinking, feeling and acting...

  • Joe Navarro
    Joe Navarro
    Joe Navarro is an author, public speaker and ex-FBI agent and supervisor. Joe specializes in the area of nonverbal communication or body language and has authored numerous books including, What Every Body is Saying and Louder than Words....

  • Metacommunicative competence
    Metacommunicative competence
    Metacommunicative competence is the ability to intervene within difficult conversations and to correct communication problems by utilizing the different ways of practical communication:...

  • Microexpression
    Microexpression
    A microexpression is a brief, involuntary facial expression shown on the face of humans according to emotions experienced. They usually occur in high-stakes situations, where people have something to lose or gain. Unlike regular facial expressions, it is difficult to fake microexpressions...

  • Neuro-linguistic programming
    Neuro-linguistic programming
    Neuro-linguistic programming is an approach to psychotherapy, self-help and organizational change. Founders Richard Bandler and John Grinder say that NLP is a model of interpersonal communication and a system of alternative therapy which seeks to educate people in self-awareness and effective...

  • Nunchi
    Nunchi
    Nunchi refers to a concept in Korean culture that describes the subtle art and ability to listen and gauge others' moods. In Western culture, nunchi could be described as the concept of emotional intelligence. In Korea, it is the person's kibun being read, which is his or hers pride, mood, or...

  • People skills
    People skills
    According to the Portland Business Journal, people skills are often described as:* understanding ourselves and moderating our responses* talking effectively and empathizing accurately* building relationships of trust, respect and productive interactions....

  • Regulatory Focus Theory
    Regulatory Focus Theory
    Regulatory Focus Theory is a goal pursuit theory formulated by Columbia University psychology professor and researcher E. Tory Higgins regarding peoples' perceptions in the decision making process...

  • Semiotics
    Semiotics
    Semiotics, also called semiotic studies or semiology, is the study of signs and sign processes , indication, designation, likeness, analogy, metaphor, symbolism, signification, and communication...

  • Silent service code
    Silent service code
    The silent service code is a way for a diner to "talk" to servers during a meal without saying a word, mainly to tell them that the diner is finished...

  • Twilight language
    Twilight language
    Twilight language may refer to:*A conspiracy theory proposed by James Shelby Downard and embraced by Michael A. Hoffman II*The Twilight Language, a polysemic language and communication system associated with Tantric traditions...

  • Unconscious communication
    Unconscious communication
    Unconscious communication is the transfer of information unconsciously.It is sometimes intrapersonal, like dreaming or cognition under the effects of hypnosis, and is not necessarily nonverbal communication....


External links

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