In our day to day lives we interact with hundreds of new people. Whether it be the cashier in The Hub, or the cute girl you talked to on the way home, these interactions are seemingly unavoidable. The fact is that communication is everywhere in today’s society especially considering the recent rise in social media and cell phone use. Much of this communication is non-verbal, but the communication that really matters is face to face.
Face to face interaction and communication is an art that few have mastered. Many believe that this type of communication merely consists of talking and engaging another. However, research shows that one of the most important factors in communication is body language. For those who don’t know, body language consists of the subconscious, or sometimes deliberate ways in which people position their body. Body language has the ability to change the way in which people perceive others.
According to Amy Cuddy, a Harvard psychologist, the way one positions their body can go so far as to affect their attitude. Positive body language, i.e. poses that project confidence and power, can have an effect on testosterone levels. In a study done by Cuddy at Harvard University, Cuddy found that positive body language can increase testosterone levels by 20 percent. The study also found that positive body language can decrease cortisol levels. Cortisol is a chemical that the body naturally produces, that causes stress. Cuddy wrote, that when testosterone levels rise and cortisol levels fall, people become better a performing in stressful situations. This in turn leads to a happier being, more likely to take on risk and challenges.
Personally, I have found the science of body language to be utterly fascinating. After watching Cuddy’s TED Talk, I decided to attempt to put some of her ideas into effect. Furthermore, I became more adept at observing the body language of those around me. Unlike Cuddy, I myself did not experience a dramatic upturn in attitude or confidence. This however does not imply that she was wrong. Rather, I think that I am a naturally confident person, so perhaps body language is the reason for the latter.
The science behind body language goes far beyond personal application. According to Bjorn Carrey of the Stanford Report, body language can go as far as to tell us of a person’s creativity. The study used advanced cameras to record the specific movements of the participants bodies. The study went so far as to pay attention to the movements of hands, limbs and etc. Afterwards, this data was put into a system with an advanced algorithm designed to detect any available patterns. The results revealed that people are more likely to work well with those with whom they share common movement patterns. The results of the study also revealed that movements of an instructor during class may affect class performance.
A recent Princeton University study, revealed that body language may play a more important role in the judgment of emotions than facial expressions. The study showed participants numerous photos of people in emotional situations and asked participants to judge the emotion and then mark what they judged it upon. The study used a variety of experiments to attempt to gauge what the participants were actually judging. One of the experiments scrambled the faces of the photographs, in which case participants judged based off of body cues. Overall, the study revealed that body language can play quite a larger role than expected in the perception of emotion.
The science behind body language is a relatively new one, that seems to be quite powerful. The way in which we communicate is by far one of the most important aspects of our lives. I look forward to hearing more from researches of the subject.