1 Dec

Notes from Nonverbal Communication


Class 2


genetics vs. culture

two big questions to deal with- nature vs. nurture

animal vs. human

These are factors influencing our experiences and behavior. How much of each is at play? How much influence do they have? (since our self consciousness seems more powerful than that of other animals) How much does being conscious of these factors change our experience?


ch. 2 from knapp




Do babies show the same affect displays as adults, and do these represent the same emotions (same question?)


joy, suprise, and interest seem to show up at a few months

negative emotions are later

pain is early and easily recognizable

this may have an evolutionary basis- begs question, evolutionary basis for all emotions?

big question- do babies show “undifferentiated arousal and distress” which get shaped by life, or do they have built in emotions and affects? the latter seems to be more popular


pain expressions- easy to recognize, but easy to underestimate


imitation and facial displays


why have imitation built in? how does this play out later, problems and uses

twin studies


Minnesota studies, areas of correlation between twins raised separately

General intelligence- 50-70%

Personality traits- 50%

Occupational interests- 40%

Social attitudes- 34%


textbook suggests it’s about 50/50 genes and nurture (nature vs nurture)

some studies show the same body language for twins raised separately- very strong argument for genetic basis of nonverbal behavior


p. 43- ways of holding drink can, walking, wearing rings, laughing

so it’s movement, speech, and even jobs and style of clothing

evidence from primates

monkeys seem to have similar expressions

Darwin cites hair raising, laughter, baring teeth as signs that we come from another lower species

although primates seem to have facial expressions, they don’t use many gestures, and the stimulus and reaction seem much more directly linked (suggesting that humans have longer memories, and/or more complex thought processes, can react to ideas and concepts as well as immediate stimulus)

categories based on similar experiences/processes- mating, grooming, avoiding pain, expressing emotions, rearing children, cooperating in groups, developing hierarchies, defending, establishing contact, maintaining relationships

*HW- observe one of these, and document it

is this list too limited? what does this tell us about humans and primates? how similar are the two? how different? are there any significant categories left out? if these basic categories define the human experience, what differentiates it from the primate one? is it just that we’re smarter, more complicated monkeys? the possible cruel irony

some similarities- chimpanzees, like humans, form “political alliances,” show empathy for those in trouble, do favors, and reconcile after a conflict with an embrace or touch

this chapter talks about facial expressions and eye behavior during greetings

in a way, it seems obvious- if you believe in evolution, then the idea that nonverbal behavior is influenced by our evolutionary past is very basic

what does this mean?

– we may think we control our behavior, and are individuals, but a lot of this may connect to our instincts and evolutionary past, we may be more instinctive and animal than we’d like to admit, and being a little conscious of this fact does not exactly change it, we’re still managed by instinct (so then what? should one try to overcome instinct? is it hopeless? should you just go with it? we have societal norms, laws, and systems of ethics, but how much of these are just masks for instinct? maybe the more advanced forms of norm and law overcome instinct, leading to what?)


– there are some elements of nonverbal comm that may not relate to our evolutionary roots- time use, clothing, jewelry/appearance, subtle elements of speaking, environment (maybe this is key if we want to see ourselves as not merely animals- these other ways of communicating)


– it is interesting to think about HOW MUCH of our behavior is animal or instinctive, and how much not, and how much we can even tell (since those instinctive drives seem so deeply wired they may influence even our analysis of them)


“various degrees of intensity, as well as blending, can also be produced by nonhuman primates” – ideas of intensity and blending, what these mean (how strong is the emotion/display? is it mixed, or just one message?)


facial expressions in macaque monkeys show- some expressions differ widely in meaning, depending on the kind of monkey (this may depend on how hierarchical the society is, or if the hierarchy/structure is more loose)

hierarchy, status, what these mean, they occur in both human and animal societies, and relate to nonverbal communication (ask for examples of status indicators, clothing, jewelry, etc as ways to show status, more complex displays to show status, kinds of status in society)


there may be a connection between the human smile, and bared-teeth displays among monkeys as a “play face,” this tends to happen in less hierarchical societies when there is “interest,” but also seems similar to the “fear grimace” of more hierarchical societies

– the question could be- is there a relation between fear and smiling? in rigid societies of monkeys, the fear grimace shows “appeasement” (ok, leave me alone, or “you win”), is this similar to smiling and playing? is there a connection between playing and setting up hierarchy and structure? do we smile to appease? are some smiles more like this than others (the unconscious versus conscious smile, other elements at play, eyes, etc.)

a basic evolutionary argument- facial displays could relate to very elemental situations (fight or flight), then the feeling associated with this, such as anger/fighting, could come to be associated with the display (and not the original situation, the fight)— baring your teeth to fight–> baring your teeth in anger –> baring your teeth as “appeasement” –> baring your teeth as a smile

these facial displays don’t just happen in primates, but other animals, too (they mention reptiles, but cats and dogs too)

– this means that our nonverbal behavior has very deep roots, older than our primate ancestors (and the latter goes back a very long time)

– this suggests why nonverbal communication is telling, and so powerful (it is older than spoken or written language, and so shows our experience from a deeper place- is this worth questioning? is the older animal brain more powerful or true than our language brain or higher functions? how powerful or essential is language?)

the approach and greeting- seems to contain elements of fear, dominance/hierarchy, and bonding affiliation (in different cultures, just variations on this theme), Eibl Eibsfeldt thinks that these elements are present in many different situations in terms of “basic strategy” (can we think of some examples? chart on board, with three categories, and how we see these communicated during normal interactions, such as greeting, saying goodbye, asking for something)

Eibsfeldt seems to think that these strategies have a genetic basis, and can be found in other species, some other researchers think that entire patterns of back and forth behaviors can be found in other species (so they have a genetic component)


multicultural studies

studying across cultures can show what is basic to human beings, beyond culture, and what is basic to human nonverbal communication

interestingly, this often shows how we’re similar to other animals- what to make of this?

multicultural similarities (same behaviors in different cultures) suggest a genetic component to nonverbal stuff- if it happens in different times and places, it isn’t the time or place, but some other factor that is determining the behavior (such as genes)

but then- there are social similarities across cultures, and these could be important factors, so it may not be genetic (or only partly genetic)

many researchers believe in a common or universal human language (of expressions and gestures), this is nonverbal communication

– arguments against this? some cultural norms are very specific, and do not occur in other places- what does it mean if some nonverbal comm are not universal at all? does this suggest some unavoidable variation among cultures (cultural evolution or something like that)


an example of common expression- the “eyebrow flash” which happens in many different/separate cultures, and can be seen during greeting, “approval… seeking confirmation, thanking, when beginning [a statement]”

Eibsfeldt outlined a possible evolutionary path the eyebrow flash may have taken

the EF could indicate either a “yes to social contact,” or disapproval/annoyance

Eibsfeldt outlines possible evolution of this (from simple surprise to more complex emotions and reactions)


Ekman and colleagues found that people around the world, even in places not exposed to mass media, (ask why this is important) could recognize many photos of facial expressions when shown to them

Matsumoto thinks that two areas help us predict how emotion will be displayed as facial expressions:

– power distance (how hierarchical a society is, and how big the differences are between different levels)

– individualism/collectivism (how important and powerful the individual is believed to be, versus the needs of the group)


go over, in America vs. Thailand, different maps of hierarchy, the power distances, the ability to move between levels, individualism/collectivism

Matsumoto seems to think that:

– in “power distance cultures” the facial displays tend to support the hierarchy (at least in public)

– in individualistic cultures, there are bigger differences between “ingroups and outgroups” in public displays (ie, less popular or powerful people will display similar expressions, and more popular or powerful people will display similar expressions, so there is a hierachy there too, only based on criteria of “ingroup” and “outgroup”)– so this means that subcultures have more noticeability and distinctive behavior in “individualistic” cultures

overall, the idea seems to be that public facial expressions support various kinds of social structure/hierarchy, and how this works is based on how important individuals are, what kinds of groups exist in society, and how power is distributed

Question- in your experience, how is power distributed in your culture? how does this relate to hierarchy? can you think of how this is seen in facial expressions or other nonverbal communication, such as tone of voice, loudness of voice, or clothing?

what is the role of individuals in your culture? how important is one individual, vs. the group? how do individuals express their being part of a group, or an individual?

(on board/computer, work in small groups of 4-5, write down answers)




testing for nonverbal comm

people cannot self-evaluate for skill in nonverbal communication, or awareness of it

this supports the idea that nonverbal communication is largely unconscious (processed by parts of the mind/brain that we are not aware of)

although written tests can’t completely show nonverbal awareness, they do offer some information (in addition to other tests)

women tend to be better at it than men (the difference is fairly small, a few percentage points, but it is very consistent)

people often think that women are better at noticing nonverbal cues than men- what do you think? true? why? any basis in genetics for this? other explanations? cultural explanations?

write down- what are the differences between men and women in terms of nonverbal communication? what are differences between men and women (facial expression, voice, gesture, clothes)



Nonverbal Communication

Class 4

Gesture, Facial Expression and Posture


Let’s continue learning about how humans are. We will continue observing, starting with some video clips. Notice the facial expressions, and gestures (hands, arms, and body) being used.



This is the most well-known area of nonverbal communication. When you talk about nonverbal communication, do you usually talk about “environment”? No, not really. Do you talk about clothes? Not really.

These areas are part of nonverbal communication, but people usually think more about the face, and hand movements (gestures). Let’s start with gestures. This is something we all know- think of pointing to a thing, or a location. Think of a “come here” movement, or a “no thank you” movement.

You can have two kinds of gesture: speech independent, and speech related.


What does this mean?

Speech related gestures go with spoken words. Speech independent gestures don’t need words. Think again of the “over there” gesture. Does that need words?

Speech independent gestures are also called “emblems.” There are gestures that are emblems. There are also “facial emblems.” Facial emblems are facial expressions used to send a message. They don’t express emotion spontaneously or naturally.

Think about smiling. You can smile naturally, if someone makes you laugh, or if you eat something you really like. You can also smile to be polite, when you say hello, and so on. Those are examples of facial emblems; they don’t express natural emotions. Instead, they send someone a message.

So we’ve talked about emblems. This area of communication is about “stylized” expressions, stylized gestures (not natural or spontaneous). We could talk about this on a continuum, just we talked about last time. (on board)

What would be a very stylized, or emblematic expression? How about a very natural one?

Every time that people talk, or interact, there is a mix of emblems, and natural emotional reactions.

Let’s go back to gestures. Remember, gestures mostly refers to:

Hand and arm movements.

We are usually conscious of using speech-independent gestures (just like we are conscious of the words we use). They don’t just happen. We have some control over them.

When do we use speech-independent gestures?

Sometimes we use them when we don’t want to use words. Sometimes we use them when we can’t use words (like if we’re talking on the phone, and someone comes up to us). Sometimes these gestures are used during conversation.

Talk to your neighbors and list more gestures (new ones, not the ones I have already mentioned).

Note that gestures have meanings. These meanings can change when you combine a gesture with a facial expression. If I point somewhere, meaning “go there,” I could do it with a smile, or with an angry look, or with a “blank expression.” These all change the gesture’s meaning a little bit.

Pointing with a smile

Pointing angrily

Pointing with a “blank look”


We have talked about speech-independent gestures. Remember, this means gestures that don’t need words. They can be used without words (and the meaning is still clear).

Speech-related gestures must go along with words. Their meaning is not clear without words.

Speech-related gestures are also called “illustrator.” This means they create a sort of picture (with gestures).

There are four basic kinds of illustrator: 1. Referent                     2. Relationship to referent

3. Visual punctuation                          4. Regulator/organization

First, what is the “referent”? In this case, it just means the thing someone is talking about. If I’m talking about a computer, the computer is the referent.

Let’s go with the computer example.

If I talk about the computer I could point to it. I could point in various ways. Those indicate the referent.

What is my relationship to this referent, the computer? This means, what are my feelings about the referent, how I use it, whether I own it or not.

I could say, “The computer is not mine. I just use it when I come here.” The “no” gesture could be used with “not mine.”

If I say a lot about this computer, I could “punctuate” with gestures meaning “first,” “second,” “third.” This tells you about the structure of what I’m saying.

Finally, if I think you need to look at the computer, I could guide you with a gesture.

“Look at the hard drive! It’s so beautiful and fast!”

On page 238, there is a list of “interactive gestures.” These are gestures used to organize and regulate conversation. These are like the last kind of speech-related gesture, number four (regulator/organizing).

Look at this list. I’ll put you in groups, and you can find a example of each type. This means please find four gestures. As an example, look at the “turn open” gesture.

Taking turns in conversation is something researchers study. When people talk, they don’t talk at the same time (usually). They take turns. They switch. The “turn open” gesture means that it is somebody else’s turn to talk. If I have a question for the class, I could ask, and then make this gesture. If I say, “Look at the computer. What do you think about this nice computer,” I could make this “turn open” gesture to show that it is somebody else’s turn to speak

So please find four examples of interactive gestures. Use the guide on page 238.




Facial expression

In the book, they talk about “facial primacy.” What does this mean?

It means that we pay a lot of attention to people’s faces. We often pay more attention to this (compared with gestures, posture, and so forth).

Then the question is: is this reasonable? Sometimes we can be deceived by looking at someone’s face. A friendly-looking person could be mean. A mean-looking person could really be kind.

The Face and Interaction Management

Facial expressions can be used for three main things: 1. Opening or closing channels of comm.

2. Complementing messages                             3. Replacing speech

First, there is “opening or closing channels of communication.” This means, basically, saying when you want to listen, or talk about something, versus saying you want to leave, stop listening, or change the subject.

Let’s look at “channel control,” page 294.

This deals with beginning, or ending a conversation. People use their faces to begin or end conversations. Sometimes people signal that they want a turn to speak by opening their mouth. So “speaking turns” can be regulated by facial expression.

The book mentions smiles. Although we tend to think of smiles as “showing emotion or attitudes,” they do more than this.

During speaking, if the listener smiles, it can tell the speaker to continue. This “keeps channels open.” So facial expression can start, end, or continue a conversation.

Next is “complementing.”

This just means that, when people talk, facial expressions add to the meaning of the words. If someone is saying something “negative,” something that could upset the listener, they might smile to make it seem nicer or less negative.

You could give a thumbs-up to say “ok,” and also nod or smile. These messages complement each other.

Finally, there is “replacing spoken messages.” In the book, they talk about emblems here. These are very stylized expressions. If someone tells you something surprising, you could make a surprised look, instead of saying “Wow!”

In the book, we learn about emotions, facial expressions, and display rules. Let’s look into display rules.


These are ways that we manage or control facial expressions (and nonverbal communication in general). We don’t just act naturally all the time, we often control our communication. How?


1. Deintensifying

2. Overintensifying

3. Neutralizing

4. Masking


One and two are opposites. Deintensifying means making your emotions seem less than they really are. If you’re really angry, you might show just a little anger on your face. Intensifying means making your emotions seem like more than they are. If you are a little happy, you could smile a lot, making your emotions seem much bigger than it really is.

Neutralizing and masking are similar. They are about covering up emotions. When people neutralize, they make their emotions seem “flat,” or not there. When people mask, they cover their real emotions with other (not real) ones.
On page 297 in the book, we have four examples of these things. For masking, the example is about someone going to a party. It’s a party for their wife’s office, with their wife’s colleagues. The man doesn’t want to go, but he thinks it will be important for his wife’s career, so he goes. He feels annoyed (bored) and unhappy, but he acts happy and confident (to help his wife). He masks his emotions with happy and confident behavior. Of course, this would involve facial expressions (happy expressions).

The man masked his feelings at an office party. Would he mask his feelings at home, with his wife? Maybe not. What does this mean?

It means the situation, the place and time, help determine how people communicate, and show their emotions.

In groups, please talk about these four “display rules.” Pick one, and draw a picture, adding words (to demonstrate one of the display rules). You must have both a facial expression, and a “word bubble” to show the display rule.



Nonverbal Communication

Class 12

Masculine and Feminine


We’re close to the end of the course. We need to catch up, today, work on the final project a little bit, and talk about masculine and feminine.

Those are the three big things to do today: catch up on old material, look at men and women (in regards to nonverbal communication), and start planning the final project.

We’ll do the planning part at the end of class. Remember that the final project is a comic book. We’ll start planning it out. At the end of class you’ll need to choose a topic to write about. You can choose from the topics we’ve talked about.

When I say “catching up” I mean that we have missed some of the things I wanted to talk about. Everyone got a syllabus (class plan) on the first class. I haven’t talked about everything I said I would (in the syllabus). In particular, I have not talked about deception, leadership, or the Mehrabian readings.

The section on deception (lying) is in the Knapp and Hall. The section on leadership is in the Oberg.

So what do Knapp and Hall have to say about deception?

They mention three areas of study:

1. What behaviors distinguish liars from truth tellers?

(Can you tell if someone is lying by looking at nonverbal signals?)

2. What cognitive/emotional processes are at work during acts of lying?

(What’s happening in the minds of liars?)

3. How accurate are we at detecting lies?

(Can we really know if someone is lying?)



This research has been going since early on (in the study of NVC). It’s “develop a list of behaviors that distinguish liars from truth tellers” because there are many different kinds of lies. There are many kinds of situations (when someone could lie).

Often, when people tell lies, they are not afraid of being caught. They are not very anxious. This means that their body language does not change very much. Also, behavior done while lying is not specific to lying. You could smile when you lie, or when you’re telling the truth. You could scratch your head when you’re lying, or if your head just itches.

However, there are some basic rules for behavior when people lie. When people lie, they usually:

1. Are less forthcoming. (They say less. They offer less information. They also speak more slowly, and hesitate more.)

2. Talk in a slightly simpler, less natural way. (Their stories often change. They repeat words and phrases. They use “fewer self-references.” They use fewer gestures. There is more hesitation, and less fluency.)

3. Make fewer “spontaneous corrections.” They are less likely to admit making a mistake when talking. (In order to seem persuasive, liars often don’t go back and fix what they say. They don’t edit what they are saying as they talk.)

4. Make a negative impression. (They seem less cooperative, and seem defensive.)

5. Are less relaxed. (This makes their voices a little higher. They may fidget, or move anxiously, more.)


They also tend to look away more, decreasing eye contact.

Of course, most of these signals, like looking away, seeming defensive, being anxious, are commonly known. Everyone thinks liars do these things. This means that when someone wants to lie, they may consciously try to control these cues. So it’s probably very hard to tell if someone is lying.

Often, people say that if you know someone well, it’s easier to know if they are lying. I think this is probably true. So if you don’t know someone, it’s very difficult to know if they are lying. Overall, it’s not easy to spot a lie based on NVC cues.



This just means thoughts (cognitive) and feelings (emotional). Researchers think this could give us a clue to the cues of people who lie.

For most people, some “arousal” is experience when they lie. Their emotions are at a higher pitch. They feel a little anxious. There are signs of arousal. They are: “pupil dilation, blinking, speech errors, and higher pitch [of voice]. Verbally, we may see excessive responses… curt replies, or extremes in language use.”

Two “caveats,” or cautionary notes: first, we already know that oftentimes, when people lie, they are not very nervous. There is no big consequence for the lie, so there’s nothing big to worry about. This means that arousal is probably low. This, in turn, means that the signs of arousal will not be there. Arousal would be there for “big lies,” or times when the liar is anxious (worried about consequences, being questioned). Second, the person could be aroused, emotionally worked up, but be telling the truth. Arousal can be a sign of lying, but it can also be a sign of many other things.

Finally, cognitive stuff (thinking). Because someone lying is thinking about two things, the truth, and the lie they’re telling, there is often cognitive difficulty. People can’t think as clearly. People can seem less clear, more confused.


There are two other things liars display sometimes: attempted control (artificiality) and the display of an affective state (showing a feeling). The first one, attempted control is easy, and we’ve talked about it already. It means that liars try to hide things, so they seem less open, less forthcoming. They appear “wooden” or “robotic” sometimes. The second means that there are certain emotions often connected to lying: anxiety, but also anger, guilt, or excitement.

Anger- A lying person could explode at being questioned, or show annoyance.

Guilt- A liar could feel really bad, and thus look away a lot, or show other signs of guilt.

Excitement- The book calls this “duping delight.” Duping is fooling someone. A person lying could show some signs of being happy (happy that they’re lying and persuading someone). The book mentions a smile at a strange time, or a “sneer of contempt.”


For lying, there is one more thing. How accurate are we at detecting lies? Not very. It is hard to detect lies just by looking at someone. Generally, professionals (such as the police) are better at detecting lies. It seems that when people use many cues together to detect lying, they are more accurate.

There are various technologies for detecting lying. The polygraph was used for some time by law enforcement agencies. However, it measures mostly how nervous a person is. It can be “fooled.” People can cheat polygraph machines. Other machines measure the changes in someone’s voice as they speak. These machines are even less accurate.

Overall, the lesson I take is that there are some clues to seeing if someone is lying. However, it’s complicated. It’s hard to know if someone is lying, because so many of the cues are connected to emotions and cognitive processes. These emotions and cognitive processes may or may not be based on lying. If someone seems nervous when they say something, they could have had too much coffee (or they could be lying). It’s hard to know.




Time for the Oberg. We’re going to jump from deception to leadership.

Is there a way to connect the two? Remember last class, I talked about connections- connecting different ideas together. I do think that’s really important for learning (and for teaching).

Connections between deception and leadership: ethics, making things work, knowing others.

Here are my thoughts about the connection between the two subjects.


Ethics- Both deal with ethics (right/wrong, harmful/helpful). Deception can harm others. I think most people lie daily, just to make life easier. Is it possible to decrease lying? Would the consequences be negative?

There seems to be an inverse relationship between power and telling the truth. Basically, if you have a lot of power, you can tell the truth and not worry about the consequences. The boss can say what’s on his mind. The workers often worry about keeping their jobs. So that’s a potential problem. I feel a lot more free to say what I think, to tell the truth, when I think I have power. When I feel powerless, or equal to others, I will lie more. I have more reason to protect myself. Self-protection is very interesting, and we could look at many Buddhist practices and concepts from this perspective. The 5 lay precepts could be seen as strategies for intelligent self-protection.

Making things work- I think lying and deception happen for self-protection, or to make things work. People lie to make others comfortable, to avoid confrontations, to maintain work relationships. What’s wrong with that? That’s an open question. To me, it feels like relationships where you have to lie a lot are uncomfortable. I think making things work with a minimum of lying is a practice Buddhists should consider.

Knowing others- I want to know others. Especially if I work closely with people, or am friends with people, I want to know them well. Truthfulness supports this.

What about leadership? Well, a leader has to know the people she leads. A leader has to confront ethical questions (because they naturally have more power, so they have the chance to harm or help others more). Of course, leaders need to make things work. They need to make an office, or a country, function.

What does Oberg say about leadership?

First, Oberg compares groups to a flock of geese (birds). He thinks, overall, that group cooperation is very important. Also, people can take turns leading, leaders and their teams can encourage and support each other, and teams should support each other when there are problems.

In talking about leadership, we’re talking not just about one person leading, but about group dynamics, how groups work together.

There are different kinds of leaders: elected, appointed, and emerged. A president is an elected leader. When the boss selects someone to promote to manager, this is an appointed leader. An emerged leader is someone others choose because of their skill, experience, persuasiveness, or other qualities.

Oberg lists three main styles of leadership: democratic, authoritarian, and laissez faire. Maybe laissez faire and authoritarian are two extremes, with democratic in the middle. Authoritarian leaders do things based only on their desires and ideas. They don’t care about their followers wishes.

Laissez faire leaders let people do what they want. They impose a minimum of control.

Democratic leaders do things based on the desires and ideas of their followers. They take input from their team. They provide direction, seek consensus and share power. This works well when you have more time (to reach consensus/agreement).

That being said, authoritarian leaders can be good if there is an emergency, or if the leader has much more experience than those working with him. Sometimes there is no time to reach consensus or talk.

According to Oberg, the time to use laissez faire leadership is in social situations, like a party. A host could bring out food, tell people where the bathroom is, but they don’t need to order people around. Finally, Oberg says that a good leader knows when to use each style of leadership. This is a good point. A good leader should be able to use a different strategy or style based on the needs of a situation.

The last thing in the Oberg I want to talk about is the qualities of a leader. I’ll go through this very quickly.

1. Vision- leaders have goals and things they want to do

2. Daring- leaders are willing to act

3. Appropriateness- leaders see people as they are, treat them accordingly

4. Decision-making skill- this is based on experience, I think

5. Risk-taking- leaders don’t always play it safe

6. Conflict management- leaders can deal with conflict and chaos, “creating a harmonious environment”

7. Service- the best leaders don’t harm their followers, or abuse their role


Next we’ll talk about Mehrabian. If you look at the syllabus, we were supposed to talk about Chapter 9, and a little more. So let’s do that now.

Here are some things Mehrabian has to say about childhood and NVC.



One thing he states at the beginning of the chapter is that we can learn about adult NVC by observing children- children offer a less controlled version of adult nonverbals.

Then he goes on to describe a model for communications. It has six parts. There are four parts to begin with: communication behavior, referent, communicator, addressee.

Behavior- action (like smiling or pointing a finger)

Referent- what people are talking about

Communicator- the person who communicates

Addressee- the listener


Then are two more: immediacy, and similarity.

Immediacy- how visible or close things are

Similarity- how much the same things are

This theory is complicated. It’s complicated because all four parts could be more or less immediate, and more or less similar.

For example, communicator and addressee could be very similar (same age, race, background) or very different (different age, background, race, and so forth).

Behavior and referent could be similar (saying “It’s big,” with a large gesture) or different (“Good bye” with a wave).

Mehrabian’s theory is that as children grow, they go from more immediacy and similarity to less immediacy and similarity.

Children communicate with a lot of immediacy and similarity. Adults communicate with less immediacy and similarity.

Another way to say this is that the way children think is more concrete and the way adults think is more abstract.

For babies, the youngest children, the way they communicate is very personal and idiosyncratic. As they develop words, most of what they say doesn’t make sense. The first communication is probably a kind of cry. “Babbling” and nonsense words have meaning for the infant, but not for others. As they grow, the words become more like their parents’ words. Eventually, they only use “adult” words, words everyone understands.

As far as abstract/concrete, young children understand the things they can experience, but not much about kinds of things, or categories. As they age, they can become fascinated by categories and types of things. At first, the things a child talks about are right in front of it. Later, they can talk about other times, places, and so on.

This is the change from immediate and similar, to less immediate, and less similar.

Mehrabian thought that in infancy, there was little or no separation between communicator and referent. Babies see things as part of themselves. They only notice things which arouse strong feelings of desire or hate. This view of an infant’s mind is common (although that doesn’t mean it’s true).

Mehrabian writes that first, referents (things) are seen only in terms of actions and feelings they arouse. Later, kids see things as more separate, but still hold “animistic qualities.” The things are essentially connected to the feelings kids have for them. Finally, adults think about referents (things) as separate from feelings and actions.


Another interesting note- Mehrabian writes that, first, kids mostly react to referents they have strong feelings for. Nonverbal and verbal behaviors are controlled, or “dominated” by things that are strongly liked, or disliked, surprising, or emotionally arousing. Later, adults respond more to “consensual” aspects of things. Consensus is group opinion or feeling.

So adults respond more based on group consensus (group being society, culture, friends, and so forth).

However, Mehrabian thought that underneath the consensual responses adults have, the childish or childlike responses to like, dislike, novelty (surprise), and emotions are really what drive people. Adults think or act like societal norms govern their reactions. However, childish impulses may have a bigger influence. They go on, usually unconsciously, under the surface of the mind.

There is so much to talk about in the Mehrabian. Try to read some. It is not easy reading. If you can, please read a page or two. We’ll talk about more next time.

Just as a reminder, here is the reading you  need to do. If you haven’t done the reading, okay, just try to catch up. By next week, here is what I expect.


– All of the Oberg

– Mehrabian Chapter 9 (a page or two, whatever you can)

– Knapp and Hall (412-39, 370-99, 74-5, 81-3, 145-51)






At this point, we can talk about nonverbal communication, and gender.

Nowadays, most scientists agree that there are differences in how men and women see the world, how their minds work, and how they perceive. In general, the world is different for men and for women. Their bodies and minds are different. Of course this applies to nonverbal communication.

Many think that women are better are reading nonverbal cues than men. They also seem to remember appearance and cues better than men. Women are also better at reading facial cues than men (which means men may be equal to women, or better, at reading some cues). On a side note, we live in an age of telephones and computers and the internet. It’s possible that nonverbal communication is becoming less important, or less relevant. It is changing; that you can’t argue. If you communicate by email, nonverbal communication will be different than if you talk “face-to-face.”

Women do not seem to be as good as reading anger cues as men are. They are also not better at seeing if someone is lying.

There is the idea, common in the West at least, that there is “women’s intuition.” Intuition is like basic wisdom, or sensitivity to subtle things. Knapp and Hall write that the idea of “women’s intuition” is probably related to heightened awareness of nonverbal cues. The interesting question is why.

Are women more sensitive in general or only to nonverbals?

If so, why are women more aware?

Why are men less aware? Are they just stupid?

Thinking from an evolutionary/genetic standpoint, is there some evolutionary reason why women might need more awareness of these things? Think about women as caretakers, protectors of children.

Knapp and Hall write about territory and personal space. One important concept for this is the four kinds of informal space. This comes from anthropologist Edward T. Hall. The four kinds are:

1. Intimate (very close, hugging distance)

2. Casual-personal (1.5 feet to 4 feet, less than a meter to just over a meter)

3. Social-consultive (4-12 feet, about 1-2 meters)

4. Public (12 feet- limits of sight and hearing, 1.5 meters-to limits of sight and hearing)


These are distances for interaction. They happen when we talk, or at other times. Of course, “comfortable conversational distance” is something you can think about here. Comfort, ease, and distance are connected.

At the same time, different messages may work better at certain distances. “I love you” is more of an intimate message, so it might go more with intimate distance. “Hey, Charlie!” is more of a public message, so a meter or two might be the best distance.

But we’re talking about masculine and feminine.

Researchers look at interaction distances, and gender is one factor they study. They’ve found that women tend to get closer than men. When they have a choice, women go for a closer conversational distance than men.

It’s not as simple as that, though. It seems that women choose closer distances for talking when the addressee is neutral or pleasant, but larger distances when the addressee seems negative (very angry, for instance).


Researchers also looked at how women and men interact with same-gender pairs, or mixed-gender pairs. Women got closer to other women, and farther from men. Men were most distant from other men. Mixed-gender pairs, in general, stayed at medium distances.

Why do women prefer getting closer? How do we explain these differences? Here are some possible explanations:

1. Little boys often play in ways that need more space (sports, toys requiring space, like toy cars). Little girls often play in ways that need less space (dolls).

2. The “oppression hypothesis”- women generally have lower status in society than men. Think of most politicians and CEOs. They’re men. People with lower status typically are given less space. Because of this, women choose less space because they’re accustomed to it (because they usually have lower status than men).

3. Social orientation- Women are more “prosocial” and people-centered. They thrive on social interaction and like it, so they get close to interact and be sociable.

I don’t think any of these are great theories. The first theory begs the question- if boys use more space to play, why is that? No one forces them to.

The second theory may be true, but I don’t see a direct connection between social status and space/distance. How would that be driven into someone’s mind? However, the strong point of this theory is that it makes us think about status and space, or, status, space, and the body. Status roles seem to be inscribed in the body, and the space around the body (which is something like another body, a space body).

I like theory 3 the best, the social one, although I think it’s a little too positive. I don’t think women are just more social, I think they’re more aggressive in many ways (in social ways). I think it could be that women get close not just to socialize more, but because they’re more aggressive socially, and want to either be more aggressive, or defend more against social aggression.

That’s about it for the Knapp and Hall for this time.

Let me try to bring it together and make some connections.

– Men and women are different. In the past, many people thought that women were weaker than men, or not as intelligent. It’s important to look at this, but also that we don’t oversimplify things. When we talk about men and women, it’s general. Specific people go beyond these categories. You don’t have to be “social” just because you’re a woman.

When talking about gender, we haven’t even begun to talk about sexual preference. Does being gay change the way people behave? Of course, it can. It must change nonverbal behavior, too.

– Leadership is something we’ve been talking about. How does this change for a man, and for a woman? In some ways, women may seem to be better leaders than men, considering their social abilities, and ability to read cues (remember intuition).

– We’ve talked about childhood and gender. This makes me think of subconscious factors. Mehrabian thought that personal reactions drive people more than societal or “consensual” factors. So, people are more like children than they appear. I agree. Gender also seems to strongly influence people’s communication.

I think you can look at gender and personal reactions can be looked at as huge factors in communication. How do you use that information?

I don’t know. My thought is that there are two big ways- analysis, and personal understanding.

Analysis- If there is a communication problem with someone, or a communication you want to improve, you could think about the people’s personal (childish) reactions, and what they mean. You could think about the gender of the people, and if this is part of the issue.

Understanding- We’ve been talking a lot about improving our communication and listening skills. It’s difficult to change. If you want to get better at something, you may want to look at yourself, and develop some realistic expectations. What do you react to strongly? What kind of person are you? How does your gender influence who you are? This could help you understand your own potential.


Nonverbal Communication

Class 13

Vocal Cues, Touch


On to vocal cues and haptics. First, vocal cues, or “paralanguage.”

When you hear someone speak, you have words, and how they are said. As the book says, however, “how something is said is frequently what is said.” This means that how you say something changes the meaning a lot. (370)

We’ll start by talking about prosody, or the changes in the sound of words (and how this affects meaning). This is a little bit more difficult in this class, since most of you are Thai speakers. English uses tonality, or changes in tone, to show meaning, or to emphasize. Of course, many languages use tonality to create a different word.

It’s my understanding that for a tonal language, such as Mandarin, or Thai, a tone change can show either a new word, or a different feeling, or emphasis.

In a way, it’s very similar. The idea of prosody is that the sounds of words changes their meaning.

Returning to the book, we have some examples of prosody. The sentence given is “He’s giving this money to Herbie.” We see many variations.

These examples show that, in English especially, or in Romance languages (English, French, Spanish, Portuguese) a tone change shows emphasis. This changes the meaning of a statement.

Mehrabian, based on his studies, found that vocal cues, like raising or lowering your voice, had a stronger influence than the words/content. People paid more attention to the tone than the actual words. Also, facial expressions had a stronger influence than the tone. He came up with a formula:

Perceived attitude = .07 (words) + .38 (vocal cues) + .55 (facial cues)

This means, I think, that often the words are not that important. Most often, the face is the most important source of cues, and paralanguage is the next most important source of cues.

Let’s step back one moment.

What are some problems with this model? Some researchers found that age differences had a big impact on which part of the formula was most important. They found that small children paid most attention to the words, older children paid attention to a mix of cues, and adults paid the most attention to nonverbal cues (paralanguage and facial expressions).

Another obvious issue: the formula leaves out many factors. What about environment, gestures, proxemics (distance) and the culture of the people?

However, it’s an interesting formula, the one above, and it’s simple (so it’s easy to remember).

There are different ways to study paralanguage. Researchers can ask people to listen to a voice, and then talk about what it sounds like- angry, competitive, happy, attractive, and so forth. These are subjective judgements. They’re based on personal experience, personal beliefs, and the culture of the listener.

Researchers can also listen more objectively to the sound of voices, judging speech rate (how fast people speak), frequency, and intensity (the energy value for a speech sound). These are two main ways to study paralanguage (not the only ones, but two main ones).

The book goes over a few kinds of sounds. Let’s list them now. They are:

– frequency

– intensity

– speed

– vocal lip control (sharp or smooth transitions)

– articulation control (forceful or relaxed)

– rhythm control (smooth or jerky)

– resonance (resonant or thin)

There are also nonverbal sounds such as: laughing, crying, yelling, moaning, and so on. Then there is  nonsounds. These are “pauses between words or phrases in someone’s speech and pauses when a new speaker beings (also called a switching pause or speech latency).” (374)

There are also what have been called extralinguistic phenomena which also affect speech. These include accent, and the duration of your speech (how much time you take).

There’s a section in the book on identifying the voice. I won’t go over this in detail. Basically, there are technologies to identify voices. There are machines that can see who a voice belongs to. You can take a recording of a voice, and see who it belongs to. These are used by law enforcement. If you watch the American show “CSI” at all, it’s one of those advanced technologies the police use.

I think the interesting point is that the book states “ordinary human listening compares favorably with the other two techniques [voiceprints and computer recognition] for accuracy…” The accuracy of people in recognizing a voice is good, compared to voiceprinting and computer recognition programs.


On one hand, technology is amazing, pervasive, and constantly changes our lives.

On the other hand, we have to be reminded that human beings are the most powerful technologies in existence. We’re capable of so much. In fact, we do so much, so many amazing things, all the time, even if we don’t know it.

If humans can recognize voices so easily, we are processing lots of information very quickly, unconsciously. The example used in the book is phone calls. Often, we can know who’s calling on the phone just by the sound of their voice (very quickly).

Next is vocal cues and personality. This is about cultural meanings of the sound of the voice, or how personality is connected to the sound of the voice.

Scientists have done studies on the sound of voices. Here are three things they found.

1. People agree on what voices mean, what personality characteristic the voices show. For example, a deep voice is often connected with masculinity, manliness.

2. There is not a direct connection between people’s opinions about a voice, and the actual personality of a person.

3. There is a connection between voices and specific personality traits.


Perceptions about voices are predictable. They are not always true. However, they are true when you look at specific personality traits.


Scientists have studied “introversion” and “extraversion” and how this connects to vocal cues. Introversion means being quieter, more shy, more contained. Extraversion means being louder, talking more, being more “out there.” Here is what researchers found:

Extraversion vocal cues- more fluency, fewer hesitations, talking faster, talking louder, more variation in pitch and dynamic. They also talk more (more words, longer time).

By contrast, I think this means that introverts would speak with less fluency, more hesitation, slower, with less variation, with fewer words, for a shorter time.

Interestingly, there seems to be a connection between the “Type A personality,” voice cues, and heart disease.

The type A personality is a person who is very motivated, confident, dominant, and aggressive. It’s the kind of person who tends to do well in business. They also tend to be stressed out, and suffer heart problems. So keep that in mind- there seem to be positives and negatives about being this way.

Type A people have a distinctive way of speaking. They usually talk fast, have uneven speech rates, loud or explosive speech, interrupt, and are “staccato.” The really interesting thing is that some of these voice traits (“loud, vigorous, and explosive speech”) are connected to heart disease.

Why? Does an aggressive person get more stressed out (and stress leads to heart problems)?

Does one style of speaking actually lead directly to heart problems? Everyone knows that the heart and lungs are connected, so ways of speaking (using the lungs for air) could impact the heart.

Personally, I don’t think thats correct, but it’s interesting to think about. I would guess that, overall, personality type affects your body and mind. There’s a lot of different feedback loops going on There, however. A Type A person would have a certa)n kind of body, but they’d also choose to do things like: workifg more, sleepmng less, working harder, using caffeine (maybe). So personality leads to choices, and those choices affect the body and mind.

You can judge introversion and extraversion, the Type A personality, and dominance by voice. People who are dominant usually have louder voices. Pretty simple.

Of course, personalities are complicated. Voices are complicated too. So let’s remember- don’t oversimplify it. Not only are personalities complicated, but they also change over time.

On page 379 there’s a table of vocal cues, and what people thought they meant. This is not about the real personality of the speaker. It’s about the impression they made. So take a look at that.

If you want to make a good impression with your voice, here are some other things to keep in mind. Researchers found that “attractive voices” sounded: more resonant, less monotonous, less nasal, and lower (for men). People like voices with resonance, variation, voices that are not too nasal. Of course, this is a cultural issue, as well. Voice preferences must change from culture to culture. For instance, for many Americans, clearing the throat loudly or coughing loudly is considered rude. This is not true in other places.

Scientists also look at vocal cues, and group perceptions.

This means, “regional accents,” the accent from different areas of a country, and associations with status, race, class, gender, and so on.

Scientist Mulac found that people respond to voices based on:

1. Sociointellectual status (high or low, rich or poor, intelligent or not)

2. Pleasant or unpleasant

3. Dynamism (how strong or weak, active or quiet, loud or soft a voice is)

Let’s listen to some voice samples and evaluate the voices. Remember, this is your personal opinioj. Especially for two, pleasant/unpleasant, it’s a personal opinion about the sound of a vmice.

Along with this, remember vhat it’s nop about bad or gkod, when we’re talking about observations. There are .o bad or good voices. A voice can have an effect on others. It can communicate things. However, it is not “ba`” or “good.” Ðlease kee` this in mind whenever you study any scientific area. Science is not interested in bad and good. Moreover, thinking about simple “bad” and “good” can make your ideas too simple, boring, not sophisticated. Bad and good exist for ethical decisions, yes, but let’s not think too simply.


Next is vocal cues and emotion (page 384).



Scientists have found that you can judge emotion by listening to a voice. You can judge emotion even if someone is from another culture (although it’s easier if the person is from the same culture as you).

Here’s something interesting: voices don’t just communicate emotion, they pass it on. This “emotional contagion” in action. Remember that term? The idea is that when people hear a sad voice, they start to become sad. If they hear a surprised voice, they start to feel surprised. I would guess that this is for genuine emotion, too. So a fake happy voice would not inspire happiness. People respond naturally to the emotions of others (what other genuinely feel, beyond what they try to show others).

The idea of emotional contagion should make you think of interconnectedness. People are not separate. They influence each other, sometimes just by the sound of their voices. It should also make you think of sympathy and compassion. People’s emotional contagion, taking on others’ feelings, means that people naturally feel for others, are naturally sympathetic to others.

Many scientists think that we can see emotions from the voice. However, some emotions are easier to read than others. People tend to pick up anger, joy, and sadness accurately from the voice. They have trouble judging fear, love, and pride in the voice. It seems to me that simpler emotions are easier to judge in the voice. More complex emotions are harder to notice.



Remember our discussion of persuasive speaking. Remember your presentations.

People have been learning “public speaking” for thousands of years. Recently, scientists have begun to study what are the important elements of public speaking, and how these affect audience comprehension. How does the way someone speaks affects how much the audience understands?

Glasgow found that “good intonation” was less important, and variation was more important.

If a speaker has an unattractive voice, pronounces words badly, generally sounds bad, it is not very important (for listener comprehension). A speaker can sound bad, and the audience can understand well.

However, if a speaker sounds “monotonous,” having one pitch the whole time, the audience understands less. Personally, I think variations surprise the audience, waking them up. Speaking without variation bores the audience, who “tune out.”

So that’s about comprehension (understanding) and vocal cues. What about persuasiveness?

Very simply, scientists noticed that the following vocal qualities were perceived as persuasive:


Speaking faster

Fluency (not hesitating)

The rest of the chapter focuses on turn-taking in conversation, and the flow of speech (hesitation, pauses, silence).


Nonverbal Communication and Clothing

Class 9

You can change people’s perceptions by changing someone’s clothing. Different jobs require different uniforms, styles of clothing, sometimes even badges or medals to indicate rank or status. Examples: police, military, some chain retail stores or restaurants use different colored uniforms to indicate manager/associate rank differences

Since many of you will be using this information for your work, we need to remember a key point. There is the “common sense” idea that clothing “projects an image.” It both tells us something about a person (if they are neat, organized, messy, stylish, and so on), and can be used to say something. What does that mean?

Clothing can be “used” to communicate. This is easy. It just means that people usually dress up for work to look good. Sometimes they try to show their status with clothes. Sometimes people try to show that they’re intelligent or a good worker (when they go for a job interview) through their clothing.

This is all true, and it’s not really the focus of this class. My job is not to tell to dress nicely. I’m not here to make you dress well. That’s up to you.

This applies to everything in this class. My job is not to make you successful in business, or a “good worker.” Our approach is more about questioning and observing.

As always, I want you to think about these things, question them and have your own original ideas.

Before we go back to clothes let’s talk about the midterm a little bit.

Overall, people did okay on the midterm. Most people got a passing grade.

You’ll notice that I gave you a percentage at the top of the test (when I hand it out). I consider 65 and above passing. I hope everyone aims to get at least 80% in the future. Here are some remarks about the different sections.

If you got a low score on part one, that means you are misunderstanding important ideas, ideas we have been talking about (since class one). If you got below a 22 on part one (6 or more wrong answers) you’re in trouble. If you got a low score on part one, I recommend that you:

–          Reread the sections of the textbook we covered in class

–          Reread your notes and worksheets from class

–          Talk to other students in class if you have any questions

–          Email me if you have other questions, or talk to me at the end of class

If you got a low score on part one, you are missing key ideas. You need to understand these ideas to understand the rest of the class material.

If you got a low score on part two, the short answer questions, there may be a few problems:

–          You may have misread the question. Always read questions carefully, especially on tests. Ask if you don’t understand. If the question is unclear for you, your answer will be wrong.

–          Your answer did not have enough specifics in it. Example: My friend smiles and looks happy.

That’s not specific enough. How did they smile? What did their face look like? How did you know they were happy?

–          Your answer did not demonstrate any knowledge of the class material. We’ve been talking about body language, display rules, status, environment. If your answers didn’t include any of these things, it looks like you haven’t understood them.

–          You got confused about one or two words in the question. If the questions reads, “What makes a communication environment bad?” don’t write about a good communication environment. Write about a bad one.


For the short and long answer questions, I wanted you to demonstrate your knowledge of nonverbal communication ideas. If you did not demonstrate your knowledge, you lost points. Please do this in the future.

For long answer questions, I graded you on three criteria. If you got a low score, you had a problem with one of these three things: clarity, argument, nonverbal ideas.

Clarity- How clear were your ideas? Did you form an opinion, then write? Did you just write, and then decide what your opinion was? It’s always better to plan, and think your opinion out, and then write (on a test).

Argument- Was your argument convincing? Did you give reasons for what you said? Did you just repeat yourself? Did you answer the test question, or did you talk about something else?

Nonverbal ideas- Did you demonstrate your knowledge of the textbook and class material, or not? You must show me what you learned.

Finally, there was the picture analysis. For this, I looked for you to demonstrate your knowledge. You did not need to be 100% accurate. I did not have to agree with your analysis. What I wanted was good ideas, and ideas based on what we talked about in class.

So that’s it for the midterms. If you have any more questions please ask. Also, if you think I made a grading error, or miscounted the questions, let me know. I think I graded correctly, but if you find an error, please let me know immediately.


Back to clothing and other “adornments.”

So clothing changes people’s perceptions. It changes people’s ideas.

We’re on page 201 in the text book now, “Our Body.”

Studies show that clothing makes a difference in a “first impression.” It influences what people think about each other. At least this is what people say. This is “self-reporting.” So people say that they notice clothing when they meet someone for the first time. Does this mean it’s true?

Of course not. When people make statements like these, they could be lying, or they could think they are telling the truth. However, maybe people just think clothing impacts first impressions (and  in reality, it doesn’t).

Why think about this kind of question? Whenever we observe, or read about science, and scientific studies, we need to state thinking like scientists (a little bit). A scientist is critical, and skeptical. They don’t just accept what people say, or the first information they get. If people self-report clothing is important, and makes a difference for “first impressions,” we can take the information, but we should not accept it right away.

It is interesting that there are differences between men and women (when we talk about clothes, and first impressions). Men say they notice body and face first, then clothes. Women say they notice clothes first, then other things. Think about why this is.

The textbook mentions school dress codes. This is interesting to think about, here, since we have a dress code. Actually, it’s especially interesting since there is a dress code for both teachers and students. Students have their dress code, and teachers must wear formal clothes, also. Men must wear ties.

Why do this? Who cares? Why does it matter if everyone dresses the same? Does it help people learn or work? Other jobs do this too, with uniforms or dress codes. Why do this?

Talk about this in groups. What are the reasons for having a dress code. Why do we need it? What are the reasons for not needing a dress code? Come up with reasons why you don’t need it. Talk about it, write down some ideas. You will be presenting these ideas in front of the class before the break.


In the textbook, a number of “problems” are brought up, in terms of clothes for students. Dress codes exist in the US, but are less common than here in Thailand. The book talks about dress codes in the US. Here are some problem areas (that some schools have banned):

-Baggy (too large) pants


-Torn clothing (like torn jeans)

-Revealing clothing (showing the shoulders, belly, etc.)


In the book it talks about school administrators, the people who decide school rules and policies. It says, “These school administrators… wanted to ban clothing that could hide weapons, that might convey gang- or drug-related messages, or that seemed sexually provocative, and to encourage clothing that would convey what they believed to be a safe, respectful, and positive learning environment.”

This quote talks about two basic things.

First, it talks about eliminating problems. Some clothes might let students hide weapons, like knives easily. Then they could fight in school and disrupt classes. Some clothes might have ads for alcohol on them, or images of drugs. This could encourage drug use among students. Some clothes might be revealing, and distract students from their learning.

Second, the quote talks about creating a good learning environment. For people to learn, they need some safety, a sense of respect (from both students and teachers). There is the idea that uniforms or dress codes create this kind of environment. Remember, we talked about communication environments. The idea is that clothing creates a kind of environment.

Please remember that I’m not promoting dress codes just because I’m a teacher. I’m not saying they’re bad either. I want you to think about it. I want you to ask questions of yourselves.

So do dress codes create good environments? Does wearing a nice shirt really make you think better? Isn’t that sort of crazy?

Keep this in mind. Teachers and administrators always want to “maintain order” in some ways. They don’t students fighting or yelling or breaking the rules. This makes sense. But sometimes teachers go too far, and are really scared of students doing what they want. Dress codes could be a way to make teachers feel safe, to make teachers feel like students are “compliant”- like students will always cooperate. What’s wrong with this? The problem is this: education is not supposed to be about compliance. That’s more like a prison system. Education is about teaching people to think for themselves, and develop their own intelligence so they can go out and live wonderful lives.

Personally, I think dress codes are okay sometimes, and bad sometimes. Here’s something else to keep in mind: I used to be young once, and I hated dress codes. I just wanted to wear my normal clothes all the time (jeans and shirts mostly). I’m older now, and I do like dressing up now.

According to the textbook, we can learn two things from the examples on page 201: “many people believe clothes communicate important messages; and… clothing communicates most effectively when it is adapted to the wearer’s role and the attendant surroundings.”

What does that mean? It may be true or false, but people do think clothing “communicates.”

Also, this communication has to do with the “wearer’s role and the attendant surroundings.” If you work in an office, and you wear jeans and a t-shirt, this could cause problems for you. If you work at a restaurant, and you wear a fancy suit, this could cause problems. In a way, it’s a question of “conformity.” If your clothes don’t conform to an environment, this will, first of all, communicate certain things, and raise some problems. People might think the person is not “part” of that place, or wants to be separate. This being separate communicates something. It draws attention. It makes a statement. First of all, it says that the person wants to say that they are not the same as everybody. Maybe it says that they don’t like the way things are, or they want to change things. Maybe it says that they don’t need to be the same- they are so powerful or important that they don’t need to follow the rules.

It might be interesting to think about the four display rules when we think about clothing. How would this work? It doesn’t work 100%, but it’s interesting. Let’s think about this, in terms of neutralization, masking, deintensification, and overintensification.


Let’s look at page 202 now.

Forget about the four display rules for a minute. Just look at the pictures, and write about your first impressions. We see four men and four women. What do you think about them, just seeing their clothes? Write down your ideas on your worksheet.

Now we have some “data.” Let’s think about it. What can we say about people’s impressions?

On page 203, the book lists some of main functions of clothing. This list is worth thinking about. It lists: decoration, physical and psychological protection, sexual attraction, self-assertion, self-denial, concealment, group identification, persuasion, attitude, idealogy, mood reflection or creation, authority, status or role display.

Let’s just quickly go over these. I’m sure you know most already, but it’s worth thinking about. We see these things all the time, and most often we see them, and think about them for only a second. They enter our mind, but we don’t really notice it.

1. Decoration- This means looking good (when we talk about clothes).

2. Physical and psychological protection- This is interesting. First, clothes keep us from getting hurt physically. They give some physical protection. They also give “psychological protection.” I think this means that clothes control how others see you. If you don’t let others see you, you are more “protected.”

3. Sexual attraction- Speaking of covering up, this is the opposite. In another way, it’s about showing attractive parts of yourself, to find someone else.

4. Self-assertion- This is like confidence. People can use clothes to seem confident. Usually I think this means becoming more visible (in some ways). If people can protect themselves and become less visible, making themselves more visible means they are “asserting themselves.” Some kinds of necktie are said to be “power ties,” communicating more assertiveness and confidence. This may or may not be true. Of course, a person with no confidence will probably not benefit much from a necktie.

5. Self-denial- This is usually a religious idea. The idea is that people need to control themselves so they can be good. This means that, if someone wants nice relaxing clothes, like a t-shirt, they should not wear it. They need to control themselves. This means wearing “good” clothes, whatever this means.

6. Concealment- This means hiding, not being seen. This could happen in multiple ways. Generally, people conceal themselves by wearing the uniform, the “appropriate clothes.”

7. Group identification- This means saying you are part of a group. Wearing a uniform, or wearing a shirt that has the name of band on it, or the name of a football team on it, are the same, in this way. They all identify you with a group. They let you say you are part of a group.

8-10. Persuasion, attitude, ideology- These are all about personal beliefs and feelings. People can show that they are gay or straight, their political beliefs, whether they are “nice” or “not nice.”

11. Mood reflection or creation- Clothing can be chosen based on how you feel. Some people wear black when they feel sad. People sometimes try to create a feeling, like fun, with their clothes. They think wearing “happy” clothes will make them “happy.”

The rest- authority, status, role display- The police can be identified by uniform. This is useful, so that we can find them when we need help. At an office, a manager may wear different clothes. How is this useful? I’m not sure. All of this means that status and role are often displayed with clothes.

Studies have been done on clothing and how it affects people. In general, “high status” clothing made people more compliant. People agreed to do things, like donate money, or random things, like crossing the street, when the person asking was wearing “high status” clothing. This is like expensive clothing, high-society clothing. This would mean, for example, a nice tailored suit and shiny shoes. Why do people respond to this kind of clothing? I think this is interesting (and I do like nice clothes; I’m not against people wearing fancy clothes).

Let’s finish up by looking at the next few pages.

On page 204, we get “clothing as information about the person.”

This is easy. It just means that clothing gives information about a person. Of course clothing tells us things about a person. We should note that, however, it can be difficult to “read” this. There is often a difference about the information clothing gives us, and what we think clothing tells us.

Look at page 205. What are some of the “personal attributes” that clothes  tell us about? Write down a few on your worksheet.

Next is “effects of clothing on the wearer.”

This section is rather complicated. In general, it says two things. First, people wear clothes that fit with their “self-image.” People wear clothes and this connects to the kind of person they think they are. If you think you are strong person, a confident person, this will change how you dress. If you think you are a stupid person, this will change how you dress.

Scientists have found some connection between the way people dress, and they way they act, too. This was seen by comparing students’ grades, and their clothes (as well as other things). What causes this? Do clothes make people smart? Do smart people choose “smart clothes”? Is it part of some overall lifestyle?

This section finishes by talking about uniforms again. This is interesting. It states that uniforms have been found to help raise student grades, but they do not help with “bad behavior.” That’s interesting, and I do not know why that is. The book suggests that students feel better about themselves, more confident, when they wear uniforms. Does this lead to both good grades, and bad behavior? It could, I think.

The book concludes that uniforms by themselves probably won’t help much.

The next section is really fascinating. It is based on a study done on a group of 371 men and women. There were four areas measured, and the scientists reported what they found. People who scored high in these areas had different personality characteristics. Let’s look at these four areas, what they say, and then you can think about this for yourself.

The four areas are: clothing consciousness, exhibitionism, practicality, and designer.

Clothing consciousness- How much you think about clothes, and how much you think others notice your clothes

Exhibitionism- How much you assert yourself with clothes or “show off,” how much attention you seek

Practicality- Buying clothes not for beauty, but to be useful (looking good is not very important)

Designer- Thinking a lot about clothes (looking good is very important)


In the book, people who scored “high” or “low” in these areas are described. For example, males with high “clothing consciousness” were “deliberate, guarded, and deferential to authority…” The list goes on. I’m going to read through this. There are a lot of new vocabulary words here, so please look them up, or ask if you don’t understand them.

Now, work with a partner.

Use the survey, and ask them questions about their view of clothing. When you’re done, look at the results. Do you agree? Does this describe the kind of person you are?

The homework is to observe clothes. Look at the categories from pages 203-4. This includes assertiveness, psychological protection, attitude and all the rest. Use these categories to talk about people you see. I do not want descriptions of “good” or “bad” clothes. I don’t want you to talk about if people look good or not. I do want you to use these twelve categories to describe what you see.



Nonverbal Communication

Class 14

Faces, and Perspectives on Time

One small thing today, and a larger one: facial expressions, and time.

We have talked a little about facial expressions, but not enough. So we’ll talk more about that in the first part. After the break we’ll talk about time. Time is often considered a part of nonverbal communication.

As for faces, let’s jump back to the chapter on “the effects of the face on human communication.” It starts on page 295.


The first part of the chapter we’ve covered already. Some ideas we get in the beginning of the chapter:

–          Facial primacy (the face is often given more importance by people; they pay more attention to it)

–          The face is dynamic- it moves and changes (a lot, and quickly)

–          People make personality judgements based on the face (but these may not be true)

–          The face can open or close channels of communication, “complement or qualify” communications, and replace speech


That should all be familiar. We talked about it a while ago. Let’s go to page 300. Ekman (remember him? He talked about different kinds of compassion) and Friesen created a system to classify different styles of facial expression. These are connected to display rules. (Remember neutralizing, overintensifying and the rest?) There are six styles.

  1. The Withholder- This person shows nothing. They are like a robot. They’re like a brick wall. Of course, this is connected to neutralizing.
  2. The Revealer- This is the total opposite of the withholder’s style. This person shows everything. There’s little filtering. Actually, does this one use one of the four display rules?
  3. The Unwitting Expresser- This is like the revealer. The difference is: the revealer may know they are showing emotions or ideas. The unwitting expresser doesn’t know their emotions show on their face. Why would there be this difference?

Some people have more control over what they show on their faces. Is it good or bad to control your face? That’s a complicated question. Some people want control over their expressions, and some don’t care. I have my own personal opinion, but it’s an open question.

Also, people are more or less self-aware. Some people know what they are feeling, in great detail. Some people don’t know at all. Most people (I think) are somewhere in the middle- they know themselves sometimes, and are unaware sometimes. I’d guess that most people have had this experience: thinking you’re doing fine, and then someone says, “You look sad,” and you think “Am I sad? Really?”

So, an unwitting expressor probably has less self-awareness (at least, at that moment in time). They didn’t know what they were feeling, or how much they were feeling.

  1. The Blanked Expressor- This is an interesting one. The person thinks they are showing an emotion, but others don’t see it at all. The person could feel happy, but their friends just see a blank wall.
  2. The Substitute Expressor- A person wants to show one thing, but something else is on their face. They think they look sad, but others think they look angry, or afraid. Again, some people have lots of control over their face, and some don’t.
  3. The Frozen-Affect Expressor- Some expression stays on the face, all the time. Some people smile a lot, so they look like they’re smiling (even when they are in “neutral”). Some people just have faces that naturally look sad or confused and so on (just based on the shape of their mouth, eyes, cheeks and so forth).

So there are two reasons for a frozen affect: repeated experience, and natural facial configuration.

On 302, there’s a discussion of emotions. It’s really excellent. It’s a wonderful description of how complicated human emotions are. We’re short on time, though, so let’s say this:

–          Human emotions are often complex. I’ll say this: human emotions are usually complex. They’re not usually simple.

–          It’s hard to know the difference between a genuine facial display and a spontaneous/unintentional facial display. This is “in part because the concept of intentionality is a [confusing] one.”

Intentionality means deciding to do something. The process of making a decision is complicated. What is the exact point in time when we make a decision? Try to find it, and it’s basically impossible. At the same time, we have both conscious and unconscious intentions. Sometimes you think you do something for one reason, but other reasons, other intentions are hidden in your unconscious.

–          Because emotions are complicated, they show up as blends.


Facial blends can show up in three ways: different parts, the same part, and neither. Emotions can show up in different parts (like the eyebrows, and the mouth). Emotions can show up in the same part (the mouth could show both anger and sadness). Finally, emotions can produce muscle movements that produce a facial expression that doesn’t look like either of the emotions. The last one I think is like saying the emotions are strong and mixed, so the expression is its own thing.

There are also very quick, “micromomentary” facial expressions. These happen very fast. They can be different from what someone says. They can be different from the main facial expression being shown. The example from the book is about a person talking about their friend. They were saying nice things about their friend, and their facial expression showed happiness or kindness. However, a “wave of anger” went across their face very quickly.

Ekman developed a computer program so that people could train themselves to see these micro-expressions.

Before that, though, Ekman and Friesen broke ground by developing a system of measuring facial expressions, called FACS. Before them, scientists had no real system for measuring facial expressions. There are a total of 40 “action units,” or muscles and muscle groups moving together to show emotions.

I’d like to do an activity. We can look at some faces and talk about what we see.

Before that, however, let’s learn a little more from the book.

There’s facial expressions, and the context around them. In real life, and in scientific experiments, there are expressions, and the stuff around them. If you know someone well, you may recognize their expressions very easily. If you meet someone for the first time, it can be harder to recognize expressions. The book mentions an experiment. People were showed a smiling face next to a “glum” or serious face. The people in the experiment thought the smiling person was a “bully,” an unkind person. The same smiling face was shown next to frowning (sad) face. People thought the smiling face was now that of a kind person. So context is important.

Overall, our textbook says that emotions can be judged from the face, and with some accuracy. Moreover, there are six basic emotions that can be judged very accurately. These six are:







This means that people can easily see these in others’ faces. It also means that it’s more difficult to see other emotions, and it’s more difficult to see blends.

Let’s go through the emotions shown on pages 316-321. Please read these with me.

Remember! These are “pure” emotions. Often people display blends. So we see these expressions mixed together. It’s like those blended fruit drinks you can buy at the market. They are mixed together.

This chapter is really very good. I think it’s by far the best in this book. I want to make sure we do an activity, and take our break. So here’s what we’ll do: we’ll do an activity, take the break, and when we come back we’ll talk a little more about facial expressions. Then, time.

Let’s look at some faces, and talk about them. We can look for emotions. Remember a few things. We’re looking for emotions, even for personality, but through specific facial characteristics. If you think a picture looks “angry” or “sad,” you have to say why. The “why” is based on movements, or shapes on the face. This is your evidence.


We’re finishing up the material on facial expression.

Remember how we talked about introverts and extroverts? There is some related material in this chapter. They talk about “internalizers” and “externalizers.” These are people who either keep feelings inside (internalizers) and show very little, or people who show a lot (externalizers) and let their feelings out.

You can see how this is similar to introverts and extroverts.

Scientists have studied the bodies and emotions of these kinds of people.

Remember, though to question what I’m saying! Are there only two kinds of people? Is this too simple?

Scientists found that internalizers showed a larger body response to emotions. Externalizers showed a smaller physiological (body) response. If an internalizer felt sad, their body felt more, responded more (even though their face didn’t show much).

This leads to the idea of discharge. Emotions must go somewhere, according to this idea. Emotions must go somewhere- either inside or outside.

Scientists then asked: if people can keep emotions in, or let them go, how do this affect the  long term health of the body? Why ask this?

The idea is that emotions lead to body responses (blood pressure, hormone releases, heart rate, and more), and body responses could lead to changes in health.

Emotion à Physiological Change à Health Change

Pretty simple.

Here are some findings connected to emotional expression and health.

–          Repressed expression à Heart problems

–          Ambivalence à Bad health

–          Alexithemia à Health problems

–          There is evidence for facial feedback.


The latter is pretty fascinating. The idea of facial feedback is that your facial expression actually changes what you feel. I remember about three or four years ago in America, there were studies showing that smiling made people feel better. People who smiled more didn’t just look happier, they actually felt better. There seems to be a connection between what you show on your face, and what you feel.

It’s not quite as simple as that. But there seems to be evidence showing that face and feelings are connected, a feedback loop. Of course, just smiling a lot won’t make you happy, but there is some connection.

Again, I think this chapter is amazing. It’s really very good. I recommend that you reread the entire chapter (pages 295-325).

In summary, here are some points to remember about faces.

–          People have different styles of expression. A person could have one main style. Also, people can use different styles at different times.

–          Emotions and expressions are complicated. This means there’s a lot to learn- a lot to learn about ourselves, and a lot to learn about others.

–          Intentionality, decision-making is complicated and hard to understand.

–          We can group people into internalizers and externalizers. These styles of expression, styles of emotion, may have health impacts.




Time is connected to communication?

Well, it says so in our book. Let’s see if this is true.

In the textbook, it is included in “environment.” So think back to environment. Remember, we talked about privacy, familiarity, warmth, formality. Places change how people act, just as people change the places they are in.

At this point, we’ll be working with the book, and also some material from Tibetan Buddhist authors (namely Tarthang Tulku Rinpoche and Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche).

First, the book talks about how time is an important part of life, and an important part of relationships. If communication is about relationships (interconnection, interbeing) any time we talk about relationships, we’re talking about communication (and time).

Communication = Relationship ßà Time

Time is viewed differently in different cultures. In some places, people live by the clock, by the calendar. In America, if someone says they will be at an appointment at 7 am, they should be there at 7am (or earlier). Of course, this is true in general. It’s not that simple.

In other places, people don’t care so much about clock time. Someone could say they would meet you at 7, and they might be there much later. In America, this kind of lateness is often considered rude. In some places, it’s just the way people live. In some European countries, I believe, time is considered very important. In others, not so much.

Here’s a good perspective to start with.

There was a paper written on time and culture by Kosiu, Troncy, and Golhauser. It was called “Time Perception in France, Germany, and Poland.” It is about time in different places.

One thing they look at is “time orientation.” They define people as either past-oriented, present-oriented, or future-oriented. If you’re past-oriented, you think a lot about the past. It’s really important to you. Think for a moment about yourself. Which one are you? Do you think most about the past, present, or future? Which one is most important to you?

They represented these ideas with circle diagrams in the paper. Look at the board.

Draw one of these diagrams for yourself. If the past is very important to you, make it a big circle. Make the size of the circles based on how important each of these areas is.

Think about where you live. Draw three more circles for your culture. If you are from Thailand, think about Thailand. If you’re from China, think about China.

Notably, these folks also studied how this changes over time. For instance, young people may be more future-oriented. However, they can become past-oriented as they get older. Old people may like to think about past events, past successes, failures. Of course, most people don’t want to think about death (and as you get old, death seems to get closer).

Ok, back to the book.

They talk about the body again.

This is something people are thinking about a lot these days! (Actually, since the 1960’s in West, I think, but these days too!) Remember, we talked about health and body responses and facial expressions. People used to think some things were just social, or cultural, but these days scientists think they are also bodily. You could safely say that culture, psychology, philosophy are in your body.

How is time in your body? One way is that our bodies are programmed over time. If you wake up at 7am every day, your body will automatically wake up then after a week or two. The same for eating, going to the bathroom, doing many things. We’re trained to do things “on time,” and in time. Our actions are structured by time. Even if we threw all of our cell phones and alarm clocks in the garbage, we’d still have the sun rising and setting, and the seasons changing. There’s no escaping time, which has an impact on what we do, and when we do it.

The book mentions time orientation, as we talked about just now. I would say, in general, this is people’s orientation, over a lifetime.

Time can be seen in different ways: location, duration, interval, and patterning.

Time as location- A location is a place. Time can be seen like a place. A lot of times, people think of the past, present and future as places, where you can be. Is this true?

Some people like to do things very precisely at certain times, in certain places. Other people don’t care too much. Some people are flexible about times. Some actions seem right for a specific time, like giving a hug to a friend (when they are sad). This time was like a point, a certain place (when a specific action seemed right).

Time as duration- Things happen and extend out. We expect some things will happen fast, and we expect that some things will happen slowly. If our expectations are not met, we can get angry.

Think about this in terms of communication. Good communication, or “quality of communication” is relevant here. When people communicate well with us, what is happening with duration? Are they giving us lots of time? Are they being generous with their time? Are they being fast, but giving us essential information? When is it good to “take your time” and go slowly, and when do you need to pick up the pace, and go quickly?

Time as interval- This is about spaces between events. These are intervals. If someone talks and then there is a long pause, does this mean they are relaxed? If someone doesn’t talk to someone for a long time, what does this mean?

Tarthang Tulku, who we’ll talk about shortly, wrote about Time, Space, and Knowledge. He has a whole theory about it, and wrote many books about it.

When we talk about time as interval, we’re talking about time as space, in a sense. When we think about intervals, we’re thinking about spaces between events. So time is space, or time has spaces in it.

We’ll talk more about that later, though.

Time as patterns- Time is about intervals/spaces between events. It’s also sets of events with spaces between them. The book mentions “social rhythm.” What does that mean, do you think? When I hear this, I think how in different groups of people, the timing and intervals are different. Different social groups do things faster, or slower, more predictably, or less predictably.

The book does not talk about this well, but people can also be “in synchrony” or not. They can move and talk in the same rhythm, or different rhythms. Often, people feel comfortable when others communicate in the same rhythm as them.

When we talk about time, we’re also talking about rhythm. We’re moving towards the Tarthang Tulku material now. This may be common sense, but our lives have rhythms. Sometimes your life is fast and crazy, sometimes it’s slow, like it’s frozen. This has been compared to the seasons changing. Trungpa Rinpoche, who we’ll read a little from today, talked about this movement of time in many ways. Seasonally, he used two main analogies: the four seasons, and “lha, nyen, and lu.”

The four seasons are, of course, winter, spring, summer, and fall. These happen in the natural world, but they can also be seen in any moment. Time moves in this way.

The idea of lha, nyen, and lu, is that things or phenomena can be divided into three parts.

Lha- The beginning, concept, or “first glimpse.” It is also associated with winter. It’s also called the “ground.”

Nyen- The middle, action, or movement. It’s associated with spring and summer. It’s also called the “path.”

Lu- The result, end, endpoint, how something happens. It’s associated with fall. It’s also called “fruition.”

Things begin, grow, and die. This happens in nature, and in human communication too. It’s important to note, also that these happen for all phenomena. Any things, or events in time, are called phenomena. They are occurrences (not isolated or static). A table is a phenomena. Two people talking is a phenomena.

But let’s talk about Tarthang Tulku.

He is a Buddhist teacher, in the Nyinmga Tibetan Buddhist tradition. He moved to the United States sometime in the 1960’s, and still lives there. He taught traditional Tibetan Buddhism, but also other approaches. Time-Space-Knowledge theory is one of those other approaches- it’s like Buddhism, but not the same.

It’s a large theory. It covers everything. There are over seven books in the series he wrote, and some are long. It’s not easy to read. It’s more difficult to understand.

First, it’s about time, space and knowledge. Tarthang Tulku uses these three things to describe all of human experience.

I guess we’ll focus on time today, since we’re talking about time.

I should start very broadly by describing time, space, and knowledge.

What is the purpose of this theory? I think it serves the same purpose as other philosophies, and religions- to give an understanding of life, how it works, and what we should do.

The entire theory starts with three elements, so let me describe them.

Time- This is the active side of existence, or the energetic side. It’s how we experience things in an order, so it’s about order too. It’s not just that. It’s also about how things happen in patterns, the energy or flavor of events.

Space- This is the open side of existence. Things happen, and there is space around them. When we talked about context before, you could say context is space. If you have a dot, there’s the space around it. You can’t just have one. You always have both.

Knowledge- This is the interaction of the two. Time and space don’t just happen, they interact. They play. We can also learn from them.

So that’s an overview. Let’s look at the readings and talk about them.

But before we do! Let’s connect back to the material from the textbook. In a way, the Knapp and Hall and the Tarthang Tulku readings are so different. But we can connect them. How?

–          Faces and feelings and decisions exist in time. They happen as a dance. They’re extremely complex and finely connected.

–          Any kind of interaction is a communication- information interacts with other information. One point interacts with a million others. This dance is time (at least in TSK terms).

–          We’re learning about reading.

“The phenomenal world actually spells itself out in letters and even sentences that we read or experience.” Trungpa

Sociology, and other traditions give us ways of reading our world. We can learn to read faces. In a larger sense, we can learn to read our world, and our lives. There’s no escape from that- we’re always readings and interpreting. We can learn to do this in a different way.