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Kinesics
Welcome dear participants to the third module of the second week.In this module, we would discuss Kinesics is a part of nonverbal aspects of communication.We would look at what are the different types of kinesics and what are the context in whichtheir interpretation has to be done.Etymologically, the word kinesics has been derived from a Greek word kines which denotesmovement.Professor Ray Birdwhistell, had used it for the first time in 1952 in his book Introductionto Kinesics: An Annotation System for Analysis of Body Motion and Gesture.This book had marked the formal research and body motion communication and establishedit as a field of formal research.He had suggested that this term should include body movements and postures, and also suggestedthat non verbal codes had a structure which is similar to those of linguistic codes.Birdwhistell had defined kinesics as “the systematic study of how human beings communicatethrough body movements and gesture” and also as the “systematic study of the visuallysensible aspects of nonverbal interpersonal communication”.This definition covers most of the fields of nonverbal communication.In popular discourse kinesics is known as body language, the term which is more popularthan the official one.As we have commented earlier, Body Language was initially the title of a book which waspublished in 1970 by Julius Fast, and it gripped the popular imagination immediately.Though the first dictionary entry of the term is found in the 1885 edition of Merriam-Websterdictionary.However, the usage of the term became popular only after the research of Professor Ray Birdwhistellwas published.Several critics prefer to define kinesics not as a field of a study, but as the specificapproach to nonverbal communication as it was established by Professor Birdwhistell.Various researchers have tried to define the fields associated with kinesics, fields whichcome under its purview in different ways.We can refer to Duncan as well as Harper and others and Knapp, who had enumerated gesturesand other body movements, facial expressions, eye movements and postures as modalities ofkinesic behavior.They have excluded paralanguage, proxemics and tactile communication from this purview.Raffle and Engle had included proxemics.However, most of the researchers agree that the study of kinesics include facial expressions,movement of eyes, head, hand, arms, feet and legs.In other words, it studies gestures, postures, facial expressions and also looks at the humangate to understand its implications and suggestions.While we articulate the sounds of a word with the help of our voice and mouth, the bodyalso simultaneously starts to convey with postures gestures and motion and equally importantinterpretation of the word and it does so, in a structured way which is analogous tothe verbally structure.However, Birdwhistell has questioned us that “no position or expression or no physicalmovement ever caries meaning in itself and of itself”.It alerts us to our understanding of an isolated kinesic expression as an isolated word whichcan have multiple interpretations and words.In the same way we find that the interpretations of kinesics dependent on the context; in thesame way in which the interpretation of a word is dependent on the sentence as wellas the context for a complete understanding.The movement of the body, the kinesic movements should be interpreted only within the contextwhich ideally comes in a pattern and is congruent with the verbal message.Isolated meanings should not be assigned towards in movements and we must interpret kinesicmotion as dependent on the context and also as an accompaniment of verbal messages, eventhough as we shall see later on many kinesic expressions can be used independent of verbalstimulus.Kinesics is perhaps the most commanding and influential of the nonverbal codes it is influentialbecause of the wealth of features which are available for bearing messages.We can look at certain estimates and observations to understand the richness of interpretationswhich are associated with the field of kinesics.It is said that more than 70 million different physical science can be produced by humans.When Professor Ray Birdwhistell and Albert Mehrabian, had started the codified studiesof nonverbal aspects of communication they had tried to prepare video footage of differentphysical expressions, of facial expressions, of eye contexts, of kinesic behavior etcetera,but they have to stop it because human face and human body is capable of literally innumerous number of expressions.Beyond the basic identification of certain basic emotions and certain universal gestures,nonverbal aspects of communication cannot assert more.Physiologists have estimated that there are 30 or so muscles in the face which are capableof displaying almost as many as 20,000 different expressions.Hewes has reported in this research that 1,000 study human postures are possible and I amsure that the number would rise.Birdwhistell has claimed that up to 2,50,000 expressions are possible.Krout is observed almost 8,000 distinct gestures in classroom behavior and 5,000 hand gesturesin critical situations.These estimates highlight the nearly limitless kinesic means for sending nonverbal signals.If the capacity of human beings to send in numerous kinesic signals exists then our capacityto recognize kinesic signals is also potentially immense.Vision accounts for around 80 percent of our sensory perception, the remaining 20 percentcomes from our combined census of hearing, touching, tasting and smelling etcetera.It is said that a train pilot can purportedly identify a plane flashes as briefly as 1/200thof a second.Fleeting facial expressions and body movements which we put into micro expressions whichcannot even be very properly recorded by a castle onlooker can be still understood byseveral human beings.Our body presents useful information even when it is isolated and even in solitude itcan reveal internal mental states or emotions to any person.Consequently, we find that people rely more on kinesic cues than any other code to understandmeanings of nonverbal messages.We understand that kinesics can send unlimited number of verbal signals, particularly whenwe consider that all of us can display more than a single behavior in any given instance.For example, if we have to appreciate a friend for something he or she has just done whatexactly do we do with the help of our bodily gestures?Either we can give a nod, we can give half a smile, we can combined that nod in thissmile, we might choose to be more enthusiastic and pass on any type of hand signals also.Now, what exactly do we pass on, is immediately understood by our friends.Even though what is common in all these isolated and different signals is a sense of appreciation.The level of appreciation and at the same time different variations are also immediatelyunderstood by the receiver.So, human beings have an immense capacity to send as well as to receive kinesic signalsimmediately.The signals which are sent in 125 microseconds, the fleeting facial expressions and body movementscan also be registered by our brain.But, how do we acquire this capability to transmit and understand kinesic messages?Many aspects of our kinesic behavior and understanding are learned through environmental and socialexperiences.It is pertinent here to quote a research by Judee Burgoon and others, entitle the visualand auditory codes kinesics and vocalics which was published in 2016.They have suggested that the kinesic expressions are acquired in three ways simultaneously.Firstly, they are acquired from innate neurological processes which are passed on geneticallyand which have developed through evolution.They are also derived secondly, from experiences which are common to all human beings in ourinteraction with an environment.And thirdly, through culture is specific tasks and social interactions that do vary acrosscultures, co-cultures and individuals.And therefore, we find that there are certain aspects of kinesic behavior which are universallyunderstood, but at the same time there are many in which certain variations are introducedbecause of cultural and social differences.Let’s look at the types of kinesics.Professor Ray Birdwhistell had suggested that there are three types of kinesics, and hehas listed emblems, illustrators and affect displays in his research work.However, Professor Paul Ekman and his colleague Wallace Friesen have built on Professor Birdwhistell’swork and they have classified kinesics into five types or five categories.And they are emblems, illustrators, affective displays, regulators and adaptors.In my initial introduction to body language I had referred to three aspects or three typesof kinesics because these are the original three types.Now, for further elaboration I have included the findings of Professor Paul Ekman and WallaceFriesen for a more comprehensive explanation.Kinesics conveys specific meanings that are open to cultural interpretation.Our movements etcetera can be misinterpreted when we have to communicate across culturesand most of them are carried out with little awareness and therefore, we find that ourkinesic expressions present the truth about our emotions and feelings.Let us look at the first category or the type of kinesic behavioral that is emblems.Emblems are a speech independent gestures.They have also been termed as autonomous gestures by Rowe and Levine.They are the movements of hands, feet, arms another parts of the body which have a specificand codified meaning, and they are not as dependent on a speech as other kinesic behaviorsare.So, emblems are nonverbal signals with a verbal equivalent.They are easily identified because they are frequently used in specific context and therefore,the person who receives these emblems immediately understand the meaning.Human civilization has invented emblems.It is not a knowledge with which we are born rather we have observed them through our cultureby interacting with others, and unlike other aspects of kinesic behavior we use emblemswith a conscious and complete awareness of the meaning of these signals.Emblems have codified meaning and they have very specific meaning which is also translatableinto literal words.The meaning may be constructed in two ways, firstly, it may be a codified meaning whichhas got a well written and well documented meaning.For example, the codes of underwater swimmers or the signals which are made by a trafficsignal police man, then, languages of the deaf and the dumb we find that there existcodified languages.They may be different, but they do have a codified interpretation.Even though we find that the expressions of the deaf and dumb can also be understood byother people who do not understand these specific languages for the differently abled people.The second way in which meaning of an emblem is constructed is through culturally learntmeanings and behavioral associations.This may not exactly be codified in any legal term of the word, but within a culture oracross certain cultures it has almost a fixed the meaning which is understood by all.Many emblems are produced by hands.They may also be produced by face.For example, dropping the jaw and holding the mouth which is used to indicate surpriseor shrugging the shoulders to indicate helplessness or your unwillingness to talk.They can also be static or they can be made while in motion.There are certain examples of emblems, these emblems which I have given in this slide areculturally coated.The V shaped sign which is popularized by Winston Churchill in the European cultureis known for a victory sign.In this sign we find that palm of the hand faces forward with the middle and four fingersheld erect.In comparison to this victory sign which is been popularized by Winston Churchill, thereis an inverted v sign also which may either convey two in number or it can also be constitutedas a gesture of insult.Similarly, the fist sign which has been often used across cultures is an expression of solidarityor defiance.It was popularized in different revolutions in the beginning of the 20th century, be atthe Chinese revolution or the Russian revolution.In 1990 Nelson Mandela walked free of prison holding this position.It also came to be known as a black power salute during the days of racial rights inthe USA; as the meaning of emblem can also be culturally constructed.We find that there are certain variations in the way they can be interpreted.Let’s look at some of these symbols.Let us look at the symbol which may have different interpretations.It can be symbol which denotes that everything is all right, it may also suggest that itis zero.It may also suggest money in certain cultures and it can even be considered to be an ofscene gestures in certain societies.We have looked at the V symbol already; the two different aspects of this symbol.The thumbs up is also related with the sense of approval, it can be a simple in aqueousway of telling a taxi, and it can still be considered as an of scene gesture in the MiddleEast.The last sign which is displayed over here also may have different interpretations.But even though these interpretations are different we find that a broad understandingof their meaning does exist in every culture.Next aspect of kinesics is illustrators.Illustrators are known as meta-communicative because, they are messages about messages.So, there are the hand and arm movements that accompanies speech or function to accent orcompliment what is being said.For example, I may found my fist on the podium during my speech to highlight a point or tonegative point or I may nod my head, and say “yes, yes, yes” in order to forcibly passon this idea of my consent, or I can say “no, no, no, no, no” to highlight this idea thatI actually want a negative interpretation here.So, this head and hand signal associated together suggest a complimentary aspect of my words.So, nonverbal messages tell us how to interpret verbal messages and they may vary considerablyacross cultures.So, emblems as well as illustrators are learnt in formally through socialization; acceptthe codified, aspects of emblem for example, the underwater swimmers code or the hitchhikers,interpretation of various symbols etcetera.We find that the rest of the emblems in illustrators are learnt through socialization only.Emblems primarily imply hand gestures that away direct verbal translation and can beused to either repeat or substitute the verbal communication.In comparison to that illustrators imply those hand, arm, or head, signals that functionto accent or compliment speech.They cannot be used without speech.And this is the major difference between emblem and illustrator.So, illustrators create visual images and support spoken messages.They are subconscious movements which occur more regularly then emblematic kinesic movementsfor example, holding our hands apart to indicate the big size of something.In comparison to emblems which are always used in a conscious manner we find that illustratorsare unconscious, and that is why we find that the use of illustrators also tells us whethera person is an extrovert or an introvert.And extrovert person uses more illustrators and then an introvert person uses less illustrators.The cultural differences are also there, but these differences in the personalities arealso understood on the basis of the use of illustrators.Illustrators include behaviors to point out outline a form or depict a motion.So, they like a visual aid.There are certain cultural variations also in the use of illustrators.There are certain cultures for example, in most of the Latin American countries we findthat people use more illustrators in comparison to their Anglo-Saxon counterparts.The absence of illustrators indicates a certain lack of interest in Latin American countries.In contrast we find that in some Asian cultures and extensive use of illustrators is ofteninterpreted as a lack of intelligence.The third category of kinesics is effective displays.So, they are the movements, usually facial gestures which display specific emotion.They can display sometimes real emotions also, but they are often faked emotional stateswhich are like using a polite social lies.Sometimes all of us have to use polite socialize in our professional settings.For example, we may come across a very old colleague in an official meeting.We did not have very cordial terms with this particular colleague, but we have to tellhim “oh I am so happy to see you now”.But how do we pass it on?Do we say, oh how happy I am to see you here today or do we say it how happy I am to seeyou here today?So, here in order to come across as more convincing and as a more enthusiastic person to conveyyour sense of happiness to the other person we have to use effective displays.So, these are like polite socialize.So, we fake a particular emotional state with the help of our facial features.Now, a word of caution can be given over here.Unless and until we are very accomplished actors, we cannot continue this expressionfor more than two minutes perhaps and the other person can easily find out the truthbehind us.And therefore, effective displays help us to avoid friction in a particular situationand this is there significant role.So, they are the movements of the body that tell us about the emotional state a personis experiencing, but more often faking.And they are primarily facial configurations which display effective states.So, facial emblem is a kinesic behavior that usually has a very specific meaning.For example, a genuine smile may suggest happiness.So, a facial emblem like non facial emblem is a speech independent gestures, but effectivedisplays are used like illustrators always in association with words.A lack of effective display does not indicate a lack of emotions however, cultural considerationsalso help us to understand what is considered to be an acceptable social behavior.For example, a person from Japan who is expressing anger show significantly fewer effective displaymovements then is Italian counterpart.The word “affect” means emotion and therefore, artists particularly cartoonists and illustrators,can draw certain lines and with a help of a few strokes of brush or pencil can drawhuman emotions very appropriately or a piece of paper.The fourth category of kinesics is known as a Regulators.Now, regulators are nonverbal acts which maintain and regulate the back and forth nature ofa speaking and listening between two or more interactants.Rowe and Levine have suggested that regulators are kinesic behaviors that shape or influenceturn taking in his speech and listening.So, these are the body movements which control, adjust, and sustain the flow of a conversationand are frequently relied on to assess the feedback.For example, how much of our message has been understood by the listener.So, we may nod our head in order to pass on our feedback.We can move our eyes in different directions to suggest whether we have understood it ornot.And these regulators control the back and forth flow of a speaking and listening ina effective manner whereas, the study of illustrators and effective displays focuses on the speakersbehavior.The studies of regulators focus on the facial expressions, etcetera in the listener.By looking at the kinesic aspects of the listeners personality we can make out the level of feedbackthe level of understanding the level of response etcetera in a speaker, whereas, by lookingat illustrators and effective displays we can just the same things in a speaker.We have been looking at the cultural differences which govern our interpretation of differentaspects of kinesics.In the use of regulators also we find that the impact of cultural conditioning is there.A misinterpreted regulatory signal in cross cultural situations, in international politicsor in international business can lead to serious problems.Researchers tell us that in professional settings it helps us to understand the associationsas well as leadership roles.O’Conner has found that frequent gesturing is highly correlated with people who wereperceived by others to be leaders in small groups.And those who were leaders tended to use more shoulder and arm gestures.He has also found that in a group setting, people may adapt poses which are similar tothose in the group that they agree with and counselors often help clients self-discloseby adopting similar postures to those of their clients to establish and open communication.The next category of kinesics is Adaptors.Adaptors include changes in posture and other movements which are made with little awareness.These body adjustments perform either a specific function or they tend to make a person morecomfortable in a particular position.They occur with very little awareness.Most of the time they are made without any consciousness and therefore, they are consideredto be the case to understanding true emotions of others.Adopters principally comprise body focused movements.Shifting body or feet position when seated, rubbing, touching, scratching, picking oneself,scratching, tapping of a pencil on the table, can be considered as examples of adaptors.Adaptors are nonverbal acts that are not intended to communicate.At when we view such acts, we may make certain judgments about the person who is displayingthem and therefore, the interpretation of an adaptor either may be overstated or itmay also be conversely oversimplified.Many movements or adaptors that function to satisfy personal needs maybe misinterpreted.Movement such as shifting position when seated, may be simply way of resolving a specificphysical situation.For example, I may be uncomfortable and I am shifting my position, but the other personmay understand it as a reflection of an attitude or a certain emotion.Adaptors are thought to develop in childhood as physio psychological means of coping.Some of these movements increase with increase anxiety for example, tapping the disk witha pencil.Others are thought to be partial survival of other behaviors, which are believed tohave been a part of our evolutionary past.For example, Paul Ekman has suggested that restless movements of hands and feet are perhapsa throwback to our flight reactions.This list of adaptors, help us to understand the frequency with which human beings canuse them to unconsciously display their ideas and emotions to other people.So, today we have discussed different types of kinesic behaviors.In our further discussions we would continue with these discussions.Thank you.