Once when I was preparing for a job interview,
a friend told me that, to come across as eager and enthusiastic, you should always maintain
eye contact. Make sure to lean forward and uncross your
arms to appear more open. Oh and also, nod frequently and smile constantly. And don’t forget to mimic the facial expressions
of your interviewer so they’ll like you more. But, I thought, wouldn’t this all make the
interviewer wonder if you’re engaged… or unhinged? Still, these are the tips body language experts
dish out to unlock success in interviews and first dates – but it’s not exactly a science…
or even really a language. In fact, the most common beliefs about body
language… are wrong. And understanding these body language myths
can help you from jumping to conclusions or trying to interpret signals that just aren’t
there. I’m Vanessa and you’re watching BrainCraft,
where we explore the psychology in your everyday life. Even for researchers, it’s really hard to
study body language. In spoken languages, a word will have a few
meanings that are agreed upon by everyone. But this isn’t true for body language. Each gesture or movement could have many different
meanings in different contexts. If you’re fidgeting during your interview,
it might be because you’re nervous, or bored, or preoccupied or drank one too many glasses
of water pre-interview! And movements can be subtle: tiny changes
in the physical arrangement of a face can make a huge difference in whether we perceive
a smile as welcoming or just creepy. Reading too deeply into someone’s body language
can very easily lead you to make the wrong conclusion about them. Most of the things we think we know about
body language are not actually supported by science For example, you may have heard the myth that
93% of communication is nonverbal. This number is based on studies by Dr. Albert
Mehrabian, but it is taken very much out of context. In two studies in the 1960s, scientists had
participants identify whether people liked, disliked, or felt neutral about the person
they were talking to based on single words, tone of voice, or facial expression. In the first experiment, researchers found
people were more likely to use information from facial expressions than from tone of
voice when evaluating how much one person liked another person. In the second experiment, they found that
people were more likely to determine a person’s attitude using tone of voice than the actual
meaning of the single word. But these studies are very different from
real life situations – you never have to determine if someone likes you based on a single word
or a static facial expression and there’s LOTS of other information that we communicate
besides whether or not we like someone. While tone of voice and facial expressions
are important, the 93% rule just isn’t applicable in the vast majority of situations. Another myth is that looking to the right
indicates lying, while looking left means someone is telling the truth. In a 2012 study, researchers looked at this
myth, asking participants to lie or tell the truth and assessing eye movements. They also looked at real-world situations,
analyzing the eye movement of individuals in press footage making a public request for
the safe return of a missing relative. But in some cases, that person was actually
involved in the disappearance of the relative, so it wasn’t a truthful request. Whether in the lab or the real world, researchers
didn’t find any association between looking left or right and being truthful. You also may have heard that if someone crosses
their arms in front of their chest, they’re closed-off or defensive. But there are actually a lot of reasons to
cross your arms – maybe it’s comfortable, you’re cold, or you haven’t got any pockets
and aren’t sure what else to do with your hands. There is limited research that shows that
arm crossing is associated with defensiveness or unwillingness to accept ideas. In fact, a 2007 study showed that when people
crossed their arms, they displayed greater persistence AND performance on solving puzzles
– maybe it’s not so bad after all. The truth about body language is that it’s
not really a language at all. What your gestures and facial expressions
mean is likely affected by your age, culture, gender, and the context of the moment. Focus on words and tone and try not to overthink
your body language. Worrying too much about your body language
could distract you from the conversation at hand, which could end up hurting instead of
helping. Instead of working to appear calm or engaged,
focus on the conversation and what the other person is saying. That way, your movements will come more naturally.

53 thoughts on “What Can Body Language Actually Tell Us?”

  1. Hey, am I coming across as open? agreeable? likeable?? Your body language doesn't have as much to do with this as you might think. Many actions of your hands and body are so idiosyncratic that they carry little specific meaning, so instead, focus on the conversation at hand. Many body language myths have been perpetuated by people prescribing an intention to a movement that, perhaps, had no intention at all.

  2. Be confident- be you. Be personable, affable, but serious(?)

    Some people cross their arms for comfort.

    For instance- some people who grow up with lots of scars in their abdomen(surgery) tend to cross their arms. Not so much for protection (which can be a habit) but to calm themselves. Like a self hug.

    I realize that seems weird, but not everyone has the same set of circumstances.

  3. For news reports they probably look at a script and sometimes it's other people or stuff they're looking at and getting distracted by.

  4. If 90% of communication were non verbal then internet comments would have 10% of the content of normal conversations…
    Which would explain why so many people miss sarcasm.

  5. Lmfaoooo that isn't a smile, that's an evil grin! He looks like he might want to kill you πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚

  6. I wonder though if knowing these myths for years could have people subconsciously act accordingly anyway, or maybe try to do the opposite to mask their thoughts?

  7. Look at the baseline, are there movements that deviate from the regular behaviour? Then think what this is likely associated with.

  8. *I just love how you bring this topics, the way that the video flows it's perfect to understand
    Please continue to make this type of content, it is helping me a lot!*

  9. What a feeling. Do do do do-do. Bein's believin'. Do do do do-do. I can have it all. Now I'm dancing for my life… Barely moving a muscle actually.

  10. I love the new not paper figures. It took about half the episode before I caught on, but I think because I didn't see your eyes, arms, or eyebrows, I had no idea.

  11. Now while I know that these myths are wrong, let's just hope any future interviewers/dates realise that they are using the wrong data in their decision making towards me. You're judging me wrong!!!

  12. Everyone who teaches Non Verbal Communication say you look for clusters. It's about comfort and discomfort. Most of what you said is true, but everyone who teaches it says it at the beginning of their course. Not 93%, but up to 80% of how we judge people is Non Verbal. I suggest reading anything by Joe Navarro, Jack Shafer, Vanessa Van Edwards, and many more. Again everything you said it true, but are the first things taught in Non Verbal Courses!!

  13. IMO, being charismatic is more about being true to yourself than faking it until you make it. If you're not engaged, no matter how hard you try to fake it, you- won't make it, unless the other person is equally unengaged and it's all just a formality thing

  14. I appreciate all the females (and women of colour) in your representation of scientists/researchers – representation is important! Also, great vid! I didn't know most of these were myths 😐

  15. I like how the truth of today is a lie tomorrow. There is no truth, there are no lies. Not long ago it was the truth that earth is flat. Yesterday it was a lie. Today it is true again. Who knows about tomorrow? Decide your own truth, your own reality, based on where you wanna be and what you wanna do and believe, and what is needed to achieve them.

  16. So how is it explained that "successful" people use these tricks with.. uh… success?
    Could it be just they were likely already confident people to begin with and these just reassured them that they had social situations in the bag?

  17. I have ASD and so this video was really helpful and some coverage of how us Aspies might construe the wrong messages or interpret the wrong message could be helpful.

  18. Why "sponsored in part"? What's the difference between being sponsored by X and being sponsored in part by X? Or is that just because your patrons are in effect "sponsors"?

  19. I thought the crossed arms thing was kind of a mix: that is too say that it can be (or is often? but isn't necessarily) due to a "closed off" attitude. And that if you want to be careful not to accidentally convey that message, then you shouldn't cross your arms.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *