Psychology, Henry Webster Phd Research Topic choice number 16: Body language and attitude THE IMPORTANCE OF BODY LANGUAGE What is body language? It is the number of gestures defining an idea non-verbally, it is the primary and first form of language mankind ever had. Words, languages, forms of communication would not have been invented, we would all communicate with gestures and facial expressions, and we would still be able to transmit ideas and understand each other!
In this text I will explain how body language is used as a form of communication, how lying is extremely difficult with your facial expressions and gestures, where you can see body language in action and the degree of difficulty to understand it.
I will explain in a second part the subtleties of how our body language was formed and how it is the primary source of understanding in human communication. I will demonstrate as well how attitudes, emotions and their representation are linked with non-verbal communication.
First of all, non-verbal communication goes back to the birth of mankind.
We can watch body language in apes, monkeys and various animal species for it is the fundamental level of communication. Doctor Paul Ekman was the major researcher about body language and non-verbal cues. He determined that across every culture there were specific non-verbal actions that were universal representing the six major emotions: anger, happiness, sadness, disgust, fear and surprise. He also discovered the presence of micro-expression which are expressions representing emotions flashing in a quarter of a second across a person’s face.
With enough exercise one can be able to recognize them and spot contradictory micro-expressions with the real emotion of an individual. Moreover Dr Ekman says “One origin of nonverbal behavior is a relationship between stimulus event and nonverbal activity which is built into the nervous system of every intact member of a species” — The repertoire of nonverbal behavior. ) Secondly, the science of the body language, also known as Kinesics, can be used in various situations to an exercised observer. The body language can e used to create deep and profound attraction by movements, touch (Kino-escalation) and facial expressions (flirt). It was observed that two individuals having a conversation after ten minutes would mirror their body language as if they were on the same radio channel and would be able to communicate more efficiently. The same thing happens in seduction. The two person will eventually mirror each other’s body language, touch each other progressively with an escalation of the touch until a turning point where friendship is transformed into something else altogether.
When mirroring doesn’t take place a sense of unease will gradually arise. Furthermore, we also have to mention a zone of comfort that when invaded arouses really complicated emotions that can lead to verbal or physical violence depending on the level of intrusion of personal space. However the intrusion of personal space in seduction can be effective to seduce the aimed person. Moreover the body language varies from one individual to another and has different meanings compared to the same gesture made by someone else. Body language is relative to age and gender.
It is found that women and girls in their teens are far more precise in their observation of body language than men, probably because they observe more closely the social structure that is established in a group to know where they fit in that particular structure, while a man doesn’t necessarily care about it. Thirdly, body language is the source of attitudes, because of multiple factors; it can create a social structure in various social interactions resulting of a stronger person in a group and weaker ones. This structure is always established through Social value that is attributed through body language, leading to attitude.
We can recognize “the Alpha Male” in the male that leans backwards, doesn’t really let the others affect his posture or his body language therefore not allowing them to interact in his body language zone (or bubble as his reality). The “Alpha” person is often considered having the most influence over the others in the group, imposing his “reality” to the other members conveyed through his dominant posture, movements and facial expressions. Finally, you can find a good ability to discern body language in mentalists ( see the show The Mentalist) or in police forces some of the time (see Lie o Me which is inspired of Dr Ekman’s research). Body language is in every interaction, it defines the nature of the relation we have with different people at different moment, it creates a micro-social structure in groups related to attitudes shown by the members of the group, and it is the base of primary communication between human beings and takes up to 78 percent of communication.
Bibliography: 1) http://www. paulekman. com/wp-content/uploads/2009/02/The-Repertoire-Of-Nonverbal-Behavior-Categories-Origins-. pdf 2) http://www. businessballs. com/body-language. htm#body-language-history