Body Language

Body Language is “another name for kinesics or loosely speaking of non-verbal communication in general”.  The achievement of non-verbal communication is due to body language, such as facial reactions, posture, vocal noises (grunts and mumbling).  Body language stems from the psyche meaning the inner brain and uses the corporal behaviour to decipher what exactly is going on in terms of thoughts, feelings and intentions.

The use of nonverbal communication begins at birth as the first instincts of a new born is to start crying which causes those around the baby to give the baby attention therefore the baby is satisfied due to the need for warmth now the baby is aware that communication and interaction between the mind and body are needed for survival. (Ratey, 2002)

The interconnectedness between the head and nonverbal transmission is evident due the fact that humans are capable of 700,000 different signs it is estimated that humans make over 250,000 facial expressions and 5,000 distinct hand gestures and have over 1,000 catalogues postures. (Phipps, 2008)

            A recent study at Wharton University about how human beings take in information thought our senses has shown that 82% is through the eyes, 11% from the ears and 51% from retention verbal and 7% is from other senses yet a person’s body language accounts for 55%.(Phipps, 2008)

Body language is predominantly used for three reasons firstly as a direct replacement for words for instance sign language secondly for reinforcement of words this is done through gestures, thirdly as a way to mirror inner emotions and attitudes.

Body language is subconscious and is intended to create balance between outer appearance and inner feelings. (Navarro, 2009)

Body language is a key aspect for human communication; it allows us to put forward our feelings without putting them in to speech. It allows us to instinctively perceive how others feel depending on our behaviour and then recognise and thus react.


1)      Phipps, R. P. (9, Auguest 2008). Body language facts and statistics. Retrieved from

2)      Navarro, J. N. (2009, November 29). The psychology of body language. Retrieved from

3)      Ratey, J. J. R. (2002). A users guide to the brain: Perception, attention, and the four theatera of the brain. Vintage. Retrieved from


14 Responses

  1. an interesting blog on a topic that you wouldn’t usually consider, very interesting. I understand that body language is a reflection of your inner feelings, but often you can be mistaken, you may believe someone to be upset when actually they are fine or vice versa, would this be because humans are still discovering more and more about body language and still learning, or can your true inner feelings be hidden. this is seen in acting and i don’t think body language should always be completely trusted. 🙂

  2. Whilst body langauge is an important component of communication; as you have shown, I do not think it is by itself neccesary for communication as many of the things it is used for can be inferred by other components of communication such as pitch, tempo and volume of speech. However in order to achieve different pitches, tempos or volumes in speach it is often required to change posture or move in a certain way, thus this will be linked to body langauge ( Therefore it can be seen that there may be no clear distinction in the link between verbal and kenisthetic communication as they are intricately linked.

  3. […]  (The second comment on this post) […]

  4. one of my most favourite scientists – dr Robert Winston ( created an experiment by which participants both met two people – ManA who was overtly happy and friendly, but with negative posture and negative body language, and ManB who was a very unfriendly and cold person but who stood with open and friendly gestures. He found that most participants were sympathetic to ManB and most avoided using negative terms to describe him. When describing ManA however, participants mostly used the word ‘awkward’ to describe him. This demonstrates a phoenomenal power in body language; even though we believe we pay much more attention to what a person is saying rather than what they are doing, speech is proven lesser powerful than body responses.

  5. On a recent course for work that I attended, I learnt that 95% of communication is non verbal. This statistic is backed up by Mehrabian 1971 and Poytos 1983, “95% of all communication can be attributed to non verbal sources”. Much can be communicated through body language through things such as, facial expression, posture, eye contact, hand movements etc.
    Body language is important in conveying yourself to others, when you are not communicating through speech. Body language affects how others perceive you which can work in your favour, for example if you are nervous for an interview, adjusting your body language to portray confidence can make others perceive you this way, when in fact you are feeling the opposite.

    • WOW that sounds like such an interesting course. I find it hard to believe even though I have read many papers stating the same as you that 95% of communication is non verbal it just seems so definite when in everyday they way I say I communicate most is through my speech. It just goes to show how incredible the mind is I guess that’s why I love studying it. Body language is so important in conveying yourself to others that employers are taking courses in how to read body language for when their hiring ( . I’ve linked you to a paper about it as I thought you might enjoy reading it. Thank you for commenting – A

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  7. A very interesting blog and topic. One explanation i have read regarding body language is that it is a remnant of past evolutionary behaviors. These behaviors are though to stem from the limbic system and may be referred to as limbic behaviors. The idea is that if a person is in a situation they dislike they will try to flee from the threat. Based on the fight or flight response, pointing feet away from the danger is an indication of a person wanting to flee from the danger. However in modern day life real dangers have been replaced with awkward social situations. Because there is no real threat we do not flee, but we are still left with a sense of fear, which is why we leek these unconscious signals. One example of this is a study by Dimitrius and Mazzarella (2002) found that jurors would point their feet towards the exit when there was a witness that they did not like on the stand, suggesting they want to escape but knows that she must stay

  8. Interesting topic, I was thinking about the way we can use body language in everyday life and I think that it is very important to know how to read someone, especially when we want to know whether someone is lying. We can be our very own lie detectors and this is used in the police to see if a suspect is lying, if you have ever played on L.A. Noire you’ll know what I mean, you play a policeman in the 1940’s and you have to arrest and interrogate suspects and decide whether they are lying depending on their facial expressions. There are lots of criteria to tell if someone is lying from their body movements.. check this website out that I found telling you how to interpret someones body language

    Although I do have to ask the question… is reading someones body language not just common sense?

  9. I agree that body language is a way of communicating without words. If understood, body language analysis can be a successful therapy and great research method. Observing body language is good for understanding why someone or certain populations with communication difficulties might behave in a certain way, for example. This means that they can then be taught how to communicate their needs in a more socially appropriate manner. Wolf, Risley and Mees (1964) observed a non-verbal young boy who kept head-banging. After positive reinforcement, negative punishment and differential reinforcement, the boy was now verbal and not headbanging. Due to the boy’s body language, it could be seen that by head banging, he wanted to communicate his needs and doing that got him attention he wasn’t sure how to get otherwise. The researchers then taught the boy a less scary and less harmful way of communicating his needs, verbal language. Therefore, I think body language is important to learn as it can really help the individual being analyzed and then wider society if their case is used in research.
    Wolf, Risley and Mees (1964) cited from Maggie Hoeger’s lecture slides ‘EIBI’.

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