|Authors||Judee K. Burgoon, Thomas Saine|
|Title||The unspoken dialogue: an introduction to nonverbal communication|
|Publisher||Houghton Mifflin, 1978 - 314 pages|
|Subjects||Language Arts & Disciplines › Communication Studies|
Psychology / General
|Reference||Burgoon, Judee K., and Thomas Saine 1978. The Unspoken Dialogue: An Introduction to Nonverbal Communication. Boston (etc.): Houghton Mifflin Company.|
The vision that directs this book is to emphasize the communicative nature of nonverbal behavior - to focus not on separate codes, but on the ways in which such behaviors combine to fulfill certain communicative functional approach to the study of nonverbal communication.Here I am suspicious of their functional approach as "the interplay of codes" is an extremely complex subject to dissect (especially for an introductory coursebook). But I do appreciate the phraseology: the "investigative goal" here is to study nonverbal phenomena common to Speech Communication, while my investigative goal is to study nonverbal phenomena common to, say, semiotics or existentialism.
It has occurred to us that most course taught under the rubric of Speech Communication share a common investigative goal: the assessment of how messages function for people. To this end, we investigate information transfer, persuasion, decision making, cohesion, social soridarity, and impression formation. Why? Because these (among others) are the functions performed by speech. They are also the functions fulfilled by nonverbal behavior. (Burgoon & Saine 1978: xi)
1. What is the Unspoken Dialogue?
We have chosen to label such communicative elements that go beyond the words themselves the unspoken dialogue, a phrase that comes from a quotation attributed to Dag Hammarskjold, the former secretary general of the United Ntions "What happens during the unspoken dialoguebetween two people can never be put right by anything they say." His perceptive observation underscores the importance of the nonverbal side of communication. Successful interaction with the world around us depends greatly on our ability to express ourselves nonverbally and to understand the nonverbal messages of others. (Burgoon & Saine 1978: 4)Apparently these authors either were unknownedgeable about or simply ignored "verbal framing", that is, giving an explanation to certain behaviors that frame or recode the behaviour in a more positive or at least understandable terms.
Definitions [p. 5]
Communciation is a slippery concept because people use the word in such a variety of ways. They talk about communicating with pets and communicating with oneself. Computers communicate with satellites, and communication is what comes out of a television set. We have chosen to limit this text to communication that takes place between two or more people. That rules out talking to yourself and to animals.
Even within these limits, there is still more controvsery over definitions. Most scholars agree, however, that communication is a dynamic process, that it involves creating shared meaning, and that meaning results from sending and receiving messages via commonly understood codes. Our system of verbal language is one such code. In this text, we shall examine seven nonverbal codes based on body movements, physical appearance, the voice, touch, space, time, and artifacts.
Information and behavior
Another way of clarifying what is meant by communication is to contrast it with information and behavior. People frequently make the mistake of calling anything that is informative communication. Few people would claim that the sun has communicated with us when we see sunlight and conclude that it is daytime. Yet when people observe living things and draw the same kinds of inferences, they often want to call the information they have gathered communication. From out point of view, information is any stimulus in the environment that an individual may interpret and use to guide behavior. In other words, it is anything that reduces our uncertainty and allows us to make predictions about the world around us. By contrast, communication implies a message that takes the form of a recognizable code and is transmitted from one person to another. Information doesn't require the presence of another person; communication does. Information doesn't require any active or intentional behavior on the part of the carrier or interpreter of the information; as we shall see shortly, communication does. Thus, while all communication is informative, only some information is communication. Communication is thus a subset of information. The leaves turning brown inform us that fall is approaching, red spots on a patient may have measles, and Popular Mechanics informs its readers how to repair a carburetor; but only the last is communication - between two people involving some degree of intent and active encoding or decoding.
Similarly, many forms of behavior are informative, but only some of them qualify as communication. Behavior can be defined as any action or reaction performed by an organism. Behavior differs from communiaction in that it can take place without others observing it, responding to it, or understanding it. Sleeping and eating are behaviors that also [p. 6] inform us about the organism engaging in them, but those behaviors would rarely be classified as communication. (An exception is the spouse who purposely goes to sleep in the middle of an argument. This is a message.) The point is that, while communication is informative and frequently take sthe form of active behavior, not all information and behavior are communication. Rather, communication can be viewed as a subset of behavior, which in turn is a subset of information. [...]
This perspective reduces to a manageable level the number of things that qualify as communication and allows us to clarify what we mean specifically by nonverbal communication.
Edward Sapir once claimed that nonverbal communication is "an elaborate code that is written nowhere, known to none, and understood by all." We wish it were that simple. Unfortunately, people have such diverse impressions of what is included that everything from extrasensory perception to foorprints to biorhythms has been labeled nonverbal communication. Our question is: How broadly should nonverbal communication be defined? If you scratch yourself or spill ketchup on your shirt, is that nonverbal communication? For those who take a broad view, both examples would be. Many people feel that any attribute of behavior - sneezing, being overweight, wearing tennis shoes - qualifies because others may react to it or interpret it. Those who take a narrower view feel that, if you call almost aything communication, you make communication more difficult to study and threby reduce the possibility of discovering general principles.
We find the information/behavior/communication distinction useful in this regard. If sneezing, scratching, and spilling take place in the absence of other people, they are clearly not communication. if such actions, along with such traits as being overweight, are regarded merely as information about your phys[p. 7]ical state, much as one notices that a tree has bard and procues blossoms, they are still not communication. But if someone thinks that you are sending a message with your appearance and actions (such as communiating that you are anxious or signalling that you want to be considered athletic), then they may be considered communication.
The definition of nonverbal communication can be further refined by addressing some related issues. There is no right or wrong position on these issues. We simply want to introduce some of the alternatives and the implications they carry and then explain our preference.
Signs Versus Symbols
If Albert stamps his foot and Martha takes it as a sign that he's angry, is that communication? If Shirley always rubs her nose when she's happy, can Lloyd say she is communicating happiness to him the next time she rubs her nose? These two questions relate to the issue of whether nonverbal communication must be symbolic or whether signs also qualify. Some scholars distinguish signs from symbols by saying that signs are natural parts of what they signify while symbols are arbitrarily assigned representations. Smoke is a sign of fire, but the word smoke is a symbol for the thing. From a different point of view, symbolic communication must involve "(2) a socially shared signal system, that is, a code, (b) an encoder who makes something public via that code, and (c) a decoder who responds systematically to that code." In other words, if the behavior is not overt, has no meaning shared among observers, and does not produce a predictable response, it is only a sign, an inference made by an observer rather than a message sent by an encoder.
Whichever approach is taken to understand the concept sign, they both rule out as communication idiosyncratic behaviors, those behaviors that are unique to the individual. Thus Shirley's nose rubbing would not be considered communication because nose rubbing is not commonly accpeted as a representation of happiness. More likely it would be interpreted by those who were not acquainted with Shirley [p. 8] as a sign that she has a cold or that her nose tickles.
If the criteria of shared meaning and systematic responses are also imposed on the definition of communication (many scholars do not want to be that restrictive), that still leaves open the question of whether nonarbitrary, commonly understood cues should be included. Return to the foot-stamping example. We would expect most people to identify a vehement foot stamp as denoting anger. Yet such a behavior is not truly symbolic since it is not an arbitrary chosen representation of anger. Rather, it is a natural response that frequently accompanies an expression of frustration. In this particular exmaple, we do not know whether Albert is stamping just to release his own tension or whether he's stamping to tell Martha that he is angry with her. If the latter interpretation is correct, the act could be defined as communication, even though it is more a sign than a symbol, because both Martha and Albert regard it as a message. It also takes the form of a socially recognized signal.
We believe it is reasonable to interpet such actions as communication. There are many nonverbal behaviors, such as gestures and postures, that arise naturally out of the emotions they signal, yet have strong communication value. We are threfore willing to include both signs and symbols in our definition, so long as they have socially share meaning.
An equally sticky issue is whether nonverbal cues must be intentional and who decides what is intended. One approach to communication, called a source orientation, argues that only those messages that are intentionally sent by their source should be classified as communication. In other words, the source determines what is intentional. Another approach, called a receiver orientation, holds that anything a receiver thinks is intentionally sent should be considered communication. This broad view allows accidental behaviors to be included so long as someone thinks they are intentional. Random behaviors that are recognized as such are rules out with this approach. For example, wearing ragged [p. 9] blue jeans would not be a nonverbal message if people knew that your jeans were your total wardrobe; it might become one if someone thought you were trying to communicate a casual, nonconforming attitude. We prefer the receiver-oriented perspective because we believe that most people engage in a lot of unintentional behavior that others interpret as intentional. We would like to include such behaviors for study along with those that are clearly intentional.
Some people see consciousness as part of intent; they say that intentional behaviors are conscious and vice versa. Others believe that an active subconcsious, without conscious awareness, sends intentional messages and interprets the messages of others as intentional. Psychoanalysis, for instance, makes this assumption. A therapist may conclude that if you cross your leg away from him or her, you are unconsciously revealing your unwillingness to communicate. Similarly, you may subconsciously pick up a fleeting expression of insincerity from someone without knowing consciously what makes you distrust that person. Whether such out-of-awareness behaviors qualify as communication is an open question. We do know that through hypnosis people are able to remember things they were never previously aware of, which suggests that we record mentally much more than we recognize.
For our purposes, we will include in our definition those behaviors that someone is aware of, whether it be the sender, the receiver, or an outside observer. (Remember that the behaviors still have to have a commonly recognized meaning in the culture.) This allows us to study such things as pathological communication and instances of insensistive communicators who sends out lots of negative messages to each other but can't put their finger on what's bothering them about the other.
The last issue is whether or not nonverbal communication must be received and acknowledged through some form of feedback, or response. Many definitions of communication include feedback as one of the requisite characteristics. Certainly no one would dispute that when a receiver reacts to a sender's nonverbal message, communication has occurred; but what if the receiver doesn't react? For those who claim that "you cannot not communicate," the answer is easy: no reaction is in itself a message. But no reaction could just as easily mean that the person never got the message; with nonverbal messages it often isn't easy to tell. Furthermore, people may not notice or react to an expression or gesture at the time but may recall it later. We have all at one time or another paid so much attention to the verbal level of communication that we overlooked some important nonverbal cues, only to have them creep into our awareness afterward. Sometimes such cues become meaningful only in the light of subsequent events, as when a depressed friend drops out of school. Not until he or she has left do the early signs become clear.
We don't have the final answer on the issue of feedback. Rather than be restrictive, we prefer to include in nonverbal communication beahviors that are not immediately responded to, with one stipulation: there must at least be a potential for response. If the receiver is physiclaly unable to receive the message (say, too far away to see a smile) or does not understand the code, there has been no communication. Such messages may be labeled communication attempts, indicating effort on the part of the source to communicate but failure on the part of the receiver to recognize the message.
Important: this is the first time I meet sender and receiver orientation concerning intention and it actually opens up a new avenue of thought in my thesis: in literature, the intention is author or narrator orientated. That is, every description of nonverbal behaviour that ends up in the finished work of literature is a manifestation of author orientated intention.
Now that we have covered some of the major issues, we are ready to offer our working definition. We consider nonverbal communication to be those attributes or actions of humans, other than the use of words themselves, which have a socially shared meaning, are intentionally sent or interpreted as intentional, are consciously sent or consciously received, and haave the potential for feedback from the receiver. It should be apparentfrom the definition that both signs and symbols are included, as are unconscious or unintentional messages that are interpreted as intentional and unconsciously received messages that are intentionally sent. The definition rules out (1) nonhuman sources or receivers, (2) intrapersonal communication, (3) idiosyncratic behaviors, (4) communication attempts that are not received, and (5) behaviors that are neither consciously recognized nor interpreted as intentional by the parties involved. (Burgoon & Saine 1978: 9-10)Intrestingly Burgoon and Saine have excluded exactly those forms (e.g. self-communication and idiosyncratic behaviour) which I find most important to research. It almost seems that I'm - perhaps unconsciously? - going against the grain and trying to open up those avenues which these researches have intentionally closed up for sake of convenience.
It is possible that many of our facial expressions, gestures, glances, spacing, and touch behaviors have biological roots, but that each culture has modified and adapter them and added other communicative elements. The eyebrow flash is a case in point. In Japan, for example, its use has been suppressed as immodest while in our cultur, it has taken on additional meaning such as being a cue of approval or a flirting signal. For whatever reason, the behavior has remained an intrinsic part of human behavior patterns, but each culture has learned different meanigns for it. It seems reasonable that much nonverbal communication can be explained in the same manner. Basic patterns may have an evolutionary base while the specific manifestations and variations may be culturally determined. It is also likely that many nonverbal cues are strictly learned and have their origin in the idiosyncracies of the culture from which they are derived. Many gestures and vocal inflection patterns fall into this category. (Burgoon & Saine 1978: 15-17)Extremely valuable hint for my presentation on eyebrows.
Coding Systems: Analogic Versus DigitalSurprisingly good examples, although I consider Ruesch and Kees (1956) themselves to be a more reliable source to quote on the distinction.
A third distinction that is frequently made between verbal and nonverbal communication is based on the type of coding system. Verbal communication is regarded as a digital system while nonverbal communication is viewed as predominantly analogic. A digital system is one that is composed of finite, discrete, arbitrary units; an analogic system is infinite, continuous, and natural. The grading system used in many schools is a good example of a digital system. Usually there are only five possible grades (a finite set), which are clearly distinguishable form one another (that is, they are discrete). The system is arbitrary; there could just as easily be fourteen different grades. Out verbal language system is considered a digital system because it consists of a limited number of units strung together according to cultural rules. The vocabulary is largely arbitrary as are the grammar and syntax. The units of any verbal language are also distinguishable from the next, one word from the next, one sentence from the next, and so forth.
By contrast, an analogic system is a form of analogy; it closely resembles what it represents. Thus, the units and the relationships among units cannot be arbitrary but are determined by the nature of what is being coded. A stick drawning as a representation of a person is an exmaple. The arms, legs, and heav have to be in the right place and follow the human form in their shape. An analogic code must also have an infinite continuum of values, such that each merges into the next just as the colors of the spectrum blend into each other. Nonverbal communication is considered to be largely analogic because many of the cues have these properties. Facial expressions are natural outgrowths of the emotions they reveal; a threatening gesture is inherently related to the message it conveys in that it foreshadows the larger act. Neither has a clear-cut beginning or end, and both can be enacted with infinite variation without altering the basic message. Many people consider nonverbal communication to be the more potent message system because of the analogic value of nonverbal codes. However, with nonverbal messages there is also the possibility of greater confusion. (Burgoon & Saine 1978: 18)
So far, research has not produced a clearly identifiable and unambiguously accepted dictionary of nonverbal cues, nor have the experts established a consistent set of rules for combining and ordering components. For instance, there is no catalogue of cues that signal avaibaility or a sure-fire combination of behaviors that represent loneliness. We suspect that, at some point in the future, it will be possible to identify what behaviors carry the same meaning as others and the underlying rules for combining signals. For the time being, perhaps the fairest conclusion to draw is that if the nonverbal codes have a rule structure, it is less apparent than that for verbal communication. (Burgoon & Saine 1978: 19)Intrinsic coding: being alone more than is the norm is a sure-fire signal of lineliness.
- Birdwhistell, R. "Background to Kinesics." ETC., 13 (1955), 10-18.
- Packard, V. The Hidden persuaders. new York: David McKay, 1957.
- Ruesch, J. "Nonverbal Language." Psychiatry, 18 (1955), 323-330.
- Weakland, J. H. "Communication and Behavior - An Introduction." American behaviorial Scientist, 10, No., 8 (1967), 1-4.
2. Approaches to Nonverbal Communication
An approach is a way of looking at something. It is a perspective from which a problem or concept or issue can be viewed. A number of persons may observe an event but give widely varying reports of what happened. Their respective approaches or orientations to the event may be sufficiently differnet that they were led to perceive certain behaviors selectively while selectively avoiding others. For example, several friends watching a football game may bring to the event very different approaches to viewing the sport. One person may watch the movements of the linebackers in order to understand how the play developed, while a second observer may concentrate on the offensive guards; a third person may simply follow the movement of the quarterback or of the football from one person to another. All, in a sense, are watching the same event, but they are seeing things differently. (Burgoon & Saine 1978: 27)Supposedly this is what happens in nonverbal communication research also and thus they list different approaches: body language approach, ethological, linguistic, psychoanalytic, physiological and functional.
An approach, therefore, is not only a difference in focus; it is a reflection of priorities. Your approach, whatever it be with regard to football, mysteries, or nonverbal communication, is an indication of what you believe to be important, worthy of attention, and central to the event being observed. For example, in the study of nonverbal communication, it is not uncommon to find a researcher who isolates a certain behavior or part of the body and credits it with having the greatest communicative value. One approach may encourage the study of facial movement, while another stresses the role of voice in communicating meaning. (Burgoon & Saine 1978: 28)Thus, besides signification, also significance, on the methodological level.
Dittman has suggested that some behaviors - in particular, those behaviors he has labeled listener responses (things such as head nods, smiles, and such verbal statements as yeah, uh huh, right) - that have as their primary function the encouragement of the speaker are interchangeable. Head nods have much the same effect as saying, "That's right." Because of this aspect of his work, Dittman is thought to represent the extreme of the linguistic approach. Dittman suggests that many nonverbal behaviors have direct verbal parallels. most researchers are willing to admit that a number of nonverbal movements have direct parallels, though they do not include smiling, nodding, and shaking the head among them. Dittman comes the closest of all the linguists to what Birdwhistell referred to as the carrier temptation - the notion that every behavior, no matter how minute, has a meaning in and of itself. (Burgoon & Saine 1978: 41)Perhaps it isn't all that bad to succumb to the carrier temptation? Perhaps it could make many complex phenomena simpler to comprehend and explain.
Nonverbal standards for clinical judgments are vague at present. They are, nevertheless, used constantly. An incident involving Ray Birdwhistell, the father of the kinesic method, illustrates the point. As the story goes, Birdwhistell was a visiting lecturer in a large class at a midwestern university. He entered the classroom, stood before the class as if to put his thoughts in order, then walked over to the instructor and informed him that one student in particular appeared to be emotionally ill. Birdwhistell identified the student. To the instructor's surprise (and relief), it turned out that the individual was not a student at all but a patient from a nearby mental hospital. (Burgoon & Saine 1978: 43)Haha.
The communication context must be interpersonal in nature. The functional approach is concerned with the role of nonverbal behavior in achieving some interpersonal goal. Although it is possible to look at individual behaviors in isolation - perhaps as the individual reacts to a novel or threatening situation - unless the individual is seen in an interpersonal context, the information gained about the person is hardly applicable to the study of human communication. Indeed, some would question whether the behaviors could be construed as communicative at all. (Burgoon & Saine 1978: 48)They can. The keyword here is self-communication. But my self-communicative approach is starting more and more to look like an approach in the sense defined here: it is a way of looking at phenomena. That is, not simply the lone individual, but the subjective position in interpersonal situations also.
- Eisenberg, A. M., and Smith, R. R. Nonverbal Communication. Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill, 1971.
- Harrison, R. P. Beyond Words: An Introduction to Nonverbal Communication: Englewood Cliffs, N. J.: Prentice-Hall, 1974.
- Weitz, S. (ed.). Nonverbal Communication. New York: Oxford University Press, 1974.
- P. Ekman, W. V. Friesen, and P. Ellsworth, Emotion in the Human Face (New York: Pergamon Press, 1972).
3. Codes I: The Human Body as Message Carrier
Action language includes all those other body movements not used as signs, such as walking and sitting. (Burgoon & Saine 1978: 53)This is the problem with reading influential books at a very early age in the process of learning this field. When I read Ruesch and Kees I did not come to associate action language with instrumental behaviour, but it makes total sense when put this way.
Action language, for example, may be taken to include such disparate things as touche, use of space, and physical posture. (Burgoon & Saine 1978: 54)I can see how this is problematic on many levels: it is at the same time too broad (contains too man different phenomena) and too specific with difficult connotations - e.g. "action" implies a doing, is physical posture a doing?
Interaction VariablesI made the mistake of using handshake with a friend with whom I had not shaken hands before and may have upset him by this. Relevant for my purposes: define:frenetic - "Fast and energetic in a rather wild and uncontrolled way: "a frenetic pace of activity"."
These factors relate to the nature and purpose of the interaction. A big consideration is the definition of the social situation. Many situations call for artificial, formal behaviors and masking of certain emotions. Our manners at the formal dinner party differ greatly from those at a picnic. A funeral calls for different behaviors than does a bar mitzvah celebration. In essence, the social context dictates what kinesic behaviors are appropriate for the occasion.
A second related consideration is the purpose of a given interaction. Even in a generally task-oriented situation, such as a place of business, there can be both social and work-oriented conversations, each calling for a different set of kinesic patterns. It may be accptable for an auto mechanic to be relaxed and to use a lot of eye contact around the garage manager during a coffee break when everyone is joking around, but a more erect posture and more deferential eye contact may be required when work resumes.
A third factor is convention or fashion. Until recently, the convention in our culture has been for men to hold doors open for women. hand clapping is another gesture governed by convention, while holding a cup with the pinkie finger extended is a matter of fashion. Specific conventions and fashions may change rapidly, as is exemplified by the handshake. Many whites think it no longer fashionable to shake hands with a black person in the usual manner, so they attempt (often clumsily) some type of soul handshake.
A final consideration is the demands of the immediate goal. Both the nature of the goal and its closeness to attainment affect the repertoire of behaviors selected. For isntance, if the goal is delicate labor negotiations, then kinesic cuses may be controlled and subtle. If the goal is close at hand (such as the end of a boring task), more frenetic activity is likely. (Burgoon & Saine 1978: 61)
The norm for adaptors directed toward the self is not to display them in public; for adaptors involving the manipulation of an object, the norms are defined at a subcultural level by individual groups. (Burgoon & Saine 1978: 65)Hmm, I wonder if this is true (e.g. who came up with it, when and how?).
Psychological ValueThis is a valuable discussion for "the nonverbal self".
Touch also plays a role in psychological development. First of all, a child learns an identity through tactile exploration. Only through touching his or her own body and objects in the environment can the child begin to recognize himself or herself as separate from the rest of the environment. Similarly, the child's awareness of that environment will depend on how much direct tactile exploration is permitted. Children learn spatial dimensions, sizes, shapes, and textures through touching and manipulating things. A child's perceptual learning is therefore dependent on haptic experiences.
The self-explorations that children engage in also contribute to their body images, to whether or not they are comfortable and pleased with their bodies. The associations that children acquire through these early ventures are dependent on how others react to them. Frank say, "The baby begins to communicate with himself by feeling his own body, its orifices and thereby begins to establish his body image which, of course, is reinforced or often negated by pleasurable or painful tactile experiences with other human beings." The child who is encouraged to touch his own body and whose touching of others produces pleasurable reactions should develop positive feelings about the human body.
Physical contact is also important to a child's psychological sense of security and well-being. If birth is a traumatic experience and the outside world an alien one, then human contact may be critical to overcoming feelings of fear and isolation. The fact that emotionally disturbed children usually respond well to stroking and rhythmic slapping suggests that this is true. Even adults subconsciously engage in self-touching - patting, rubbing, scratching - when they are disturbed. Touching seems to provide a source of reassurance and comfort. It helps to dispel negative feelings. Tactile stiumation also brings pleasure and self-gratification. This should be apparent to anyone who has ever watched babies explore their hands and feet and coo while patting themselves. (Burgoon & Saine 1978: 67)
As for facial and cranial hair, any male who wore long hair, a beard, or a mustache during the 1960s and early 1970s is aware of the strong negative reactions they created. During that time, the hair controversy was much discussed. THe military's imposition of hair regulation was controversioal. Vietnam veterans report that they were given choices of haircuts but they were strongly encouraged to have their hair closely cropped because their commanding officer preferred shorter hair. Combat comfort was cited as the official rationale, but critics claim that the true purpose was to reduce individual identity. (Burgoon & Saine 1978: 77)I would have associated it with either lice (although already in the 70s this was a meager excuse) or the factor of obedience brought about by this "reduction of individual identity".
Vocalics includes all stiumuli produced by the human voice (other than words themselves) that affect the auditory sense. Everything from sniffs and sneezes to rapid speech, nasality, and singing fall into this category. So do silences and pauses during speech. Many scholars refer to this class of behaviors as paralanguage because it is what supports language (para meaning alongside). We have chosen not to use that label because some people apply it to more than just the voice, using it to cover any kinds of cues that work to clarify the interpretation of language, including all kinesic behaviors. We shall stick with the label vocalics. (Burgoon & Saine 1978: 80-81)Quite understandable. Greimas attributed even font and text layout to paralanguage - in this sense paralanguage is everything that goes alongside with language.
- Delaumosne, M. L. The Art oF Oratory, System of Delsarte. Albany: Edgard S. Werner, 1882.
- Heinberg, P. Voice Training for Speaking and Reading Aloud. New York: Ronald Press, 1964.
- Saral, T. B. "Cross-Cultural Generality of Communication Via Facial Expressions." In D. C. Speer (ed.), Nonverbal Communication. Beverly Hills: Sage, 1972. (pp. 97-110)
4. Codes II: Space, Time, and Artifacts
Four general types of territory can be identified, each with a different degree of access. Public territory is any locale that is open to all. Public streets, movie theaters, city buses, and parks all fall into this category. The next most accessible type of territory is interactional. This is territory designed for social interaction but to which access is restricted to those who have a legitimate right to participate in that interaction. An empty classroom of a public university is a public territory, but when it is filled with students holding class, it is interactional and limited to those who are enrolled. (Burgoon & Saine 1978: 92)This is very much related to #avoidance, e.g. avoiding interactional territories.
These findings demonstrate yet another way in which people react to invasions of personal space: they treat others as nonpersons, that is, they treat them as an object rather than a living organism that deserves attention and respect. This reaction is nowhere more evident than in a public elevator. Notice how people behave. They all pretend that there are not living, breathing people standing next to them. They stare at the floor indicator and avoid communication, behaving as if the bodies next to them are mere dummies. Sommer explains why people respond this way: "A nonperson cannot invade someone's personal space any more than a tree or chair can." Regarding people in our immediate environment as a chair or hatrach eases tension that a spatial invasion creates; the reaction denies that an invasion is actually occurring. After all, inanimate objects are not a threat. This explains in part why people become uneasy when an occasional good-natured soul breaks the elevator norm and strikes up a conversation. By forcing us to respond to them as people, they make us aware of how vulnerable we are in that confined space and how small the buffer between us is. (Burgoon & Saine 1978: 97)I was not aware that the term nonperson comes from Sommer's library experiments (proxemic intrusions). But, again, #avoidance.
Future-oriented individuals spend much time anticipating what will happen rather than paying attention to what is occurring at the moment. They are interested in speculating on what the future will birng and then relating that to the present. (Burgoon & Saine 1978: 100)I feel as though I am a future-oriented person.
- Rosenfeld, L. B., and Civikly, J. M. With Words Unspoken: The Nonverbal Experience. New York: Holt, Rinehart and WInston, 1976.
- Vail, D. Dehumanizing and the Institutional Career. Springfield, Ill.: Charles C: Thomas, 1966.
5. Individual, Subcultural, and Cultural Styles
The difference in nonverbal behavior between blacks and whites that is perhaps the most difficult to document has to do with body movement. Young blacks have developed a repertoire of stylized movements that are quite different from the movement patterns of their white counterparts. These behaviors are important subjects for discussion because they fulfill important functions for a group of people. These stylized movement patterns are what some referred to as role signs; they signal membership in a subcultural group. Kenneth Johnson, a researcher in ethnic studies at the University of California at Berkeley, has described a number of different mannerisms distinctive of black youths.I'm still considering writing about the relationship of hip-hop and nonverbal communication. "Role sign" may come handy.
1. There is a style of black male walking behavior, called in street jargon the pimp strut, which functions as an attention-getting device and serves to exhibit one's masculinity and state one's racial pride, self-confidence, and control.The young Black males' walk is different. First of all, it's much slower - it's more of a stroll. The head is sometimes slightly elevated and casually tipped to the side. Only one arm swings at the side with the hand slightly cupped. The other arm hangs limply to the side or it is tucked in the pocket. The gait is slow, casual and rhythmic. The gait is almost like a walking dance, with all parts of the body moving in rhythmic harmony.(Burgoon & Saine 1978: 130)
Popular opinion holds that there are two groups of people in the world: those who are observers and those who are observed. In other words, some people view others and say, "I wonder what's wrong with him? What made him do that?" Those are the observers. The observed say, "I wonder why he's doing that to me?" The observer never views behavior of another person as a comment on his actions. The observed individual always feels as though even the slightest sign of unhappiness mustbe aimed at him. (Burgoon & Saine 1978: 134)I don't believe there are people who always are either one of these, much less that these describe the male and female genders. Rather, it's a flickering position or attitude of the everyday nonverbalist: the observer is more objective, the observed feels him- or herself participating.
An intriguing psychological variable that may suggest an unusual nonverbal profile is conceptual abstractness. Harvey, Hunt, and Schroder have identified fourt types of conceptual systems ranging from the very concrete to the very abstract. These are the authoritatian, the antiauthoritarian, the person-oriented, and the information-oriented systems. A highly concrete system (the authoritarian) tends to process information in dichotomies - things are either black or white, good or bad, right or wrong. Authority legitimizes action; one looks to status to know whether an action has value. At the other extreme of the continuum is the highly abstract, information-oriented individual who is concerned not with the status of the speaker but with the intrinsic value of the message. Things are not black or white; there are gradations of value. (Burgoon & Saine 1978: 139)Very intrigueing indeed. At the outset it seems that the whole Tartu-Moscow School of semiotics was authoritative in this sense: they loved binary oppositions (so they were methodological authoritarians?). I like to think myself as an abstract person, yet I most likely would fit the profile of the antiauthoritarian. I do tend to learn much from old books regardless of their field or sometimes even topic - thus whirling my own conceptual system into a world of abstract networks of connections - but I also tend to orient myself towards authority (that is, old and recognized books). This theory is something I should definitely check out when I get time.
- Argyle, M. The Psychology of Interpersonal behavior. Baltimore: Penguin, 1967.
- Thorne, B., and Henley, N. (eds.). Language and Sex. Rowley, Mass.: Newbury House, 1975.
- Tomkins, S. S., and Izard, C. E. (eds.). Affect, Cognition, and Personality. New York: Springer, 1965.
- O. J. Harvey, D. E. Hunt, and H. M. Schroder, Conceptual Systems and Personality Orgnaization (New York: Wiley, 1961).
6. First Impressions
Perhaps the most significant factor in the making of initial judgments is physical appearance. Scholars who study the development of interpersonal attraction say that initial impressions are based on objsect characteristics. That is, we initially judge peole as we would an inanimate object. Our conclusions are based on what is superficially observable - in most cases, body features and apparel. Thus, our third principle is: Initial impressions are formed by treating others as objects, judging them on the basis of outward appearance. (Burgoon & Saine 1978: 147)Thus it seems that "people on the bus" are rightfully "nonpersons", as we rarely if ever converse with them, only judge them, as "objects".
7. Relational Messages
The cues that influence your judgment - proxomity, touching, facial expressions, and courtship cues - are what we call relational messages, messages about the nature of the relationship between people. (Burgoon & Saine 1978: 173)This category is notoriously difficult to abstract from other metacommunicative cues.
In the broadest sense, relational messages may indicate the feelings, personalities, and identities of the people in the communication transaction. In other words, they can involve anything that has to do with how two or more people regard each other, themselves, and their relationship. (Burgoon & Saine 1978: 173)This has a very goffmanian tint to it; it is as if Goffman studied mainly relational messages.
Relational messages may carry four basic kinds of information. First, they may signal inclusion or exclusion, that is, whether a person is being included in an interaction.Highly relevant for my purposes.
Cliques are well known for their obvious signalling of membership. Members dress alike, form tight little conversational circles, and turn their backs on those who don't belong. Such inclusion messages, which are employed with varying degree of subtlety by all age groups, may also serve as a form of rejection to those who are left out.
Second, relational messages may indicate either confirmation or disconfirmation. Confirmational messages are supportive in nature; they indicate accapetance and support of another's identity and self-perception. Smiling, nodding, and toching are common means of communicating confirmation. Disconfirmational messages, on the other hand, provide negative feedback; they fail to support the individual's self-perceptions. The student who receives a raised eyebrow in response to his statement that he is really working hard is receiving a message of disconfirmation. Such messages may also indicate rejection by failing to grant the other's worth. Always being chosen last for the company bowling league or receiving snickers about the way you dress are examples. Lack of inclusion is also in itself a form of disconfirmation.
Third, relational messages may involve a control element, indicating who has the power to define, direct, or dominate the relationship. In the movie Gone With the Wind, Scarlett O'Hara unquestionably ran the show with her many suitors. All conversation and all longing glances were directed her way.
Finally, relational messages may involve an affection component, indicating the degree to which a person feels emotionally close to another or attempts to express feelings of closeness. The popular notions of stroking and massaging the ego fall into this category because they are attempts at expressing affection or liking toward another. We may give others strokes with smiles and pleasant voices. These four components of relational messages combine in varying degrees to communicate attraction, liking, credibility, power, and status. (Burgoon & Saine 1978: 174)
The most effective features of the kinesic repertoire are eye behavior, posture, and gestural or bodily activity. Direct eye contact may be interpreted as a sign of credibility. If a person looks you in the eye when he or she says something, you are likely to assume that the person is being honest with you and knows what he or she is talking about. When people avert their eyes, we usually assume that they are keeping something from us, in which case we find them less credible in terms of character, or that they are having a hard time gathering their thoughts, in which case we find them less credible in terms of competence. Similarly, the more frequently a person looks ar you, the more honest and qualified she or he seems. (Burgoon & Saine 1978: 181)Very surface-level and minute, but seems to hold true.
8. The Communication of Affect
Emotional expressions are events. Certainly not. Emotional expressions are processes, having both a beginning and an end. When we see someone express happiness, we don't see merely a frozen display; we see an assortment of muscular changes over a short interval of time as the face and body develop an image that we have learned to associate with emotional states. While researchers often investigate emotions by relying on fixed images, such as sketch and photographs, those images represent nothing more than a single frozen moment within an interpersonal process. (Burgoon & Saine 1978: 196)I remember Goffman ("On Face-Work") suggesting the exact opposite: that emotions could be construed as events. No such general statement can be true of course, but as a device it can be quite useful in some cases (e.g. mediated emotions, in literature, for example).
|Pleasantness||Fast tempo, few harmonics, large pitch variation, sharp envelope, low pitch level, pitch contour down, small amplitude variation (salient configuration: large pitch variation plus pitch contour up)|
|Actvity||Fast tempo, high pitch level, many harmonics, large pitch variations, sharp envelope, small amplitude variation|
|Potency||Many harmonics, fast tempo, high pitch level, round envelope, pitch contour up (salient configurations: large amplitude variation plus high pitch level, high pitch level plus many harmonics)|
|Anger||Many harmonics, fast tempo, hich pitch level, small pitch variation, pitch contours up (salient configuration: small pitch variation plus pitch contour up)|
|Boredom||Slow tempo, low pitch level, few harmonics, pitch contour down, round envelope, small pitch variation|
|Disgust||Many harmonics, small pitch variation, round envelope, slow tempo (salient configuration: small pitch variation plus pitch countour up)|
|Fear||Pitch contour up, fast tempo, many harmonics, high pitch level, round envelope, small pitch variation (salient configurations: small pitch variation plus pitch contour up, fast tempo plus many harmonics)|
|Happiness||Fast tempo, large pitch variation, sharop envelope, few harmonics, moderate amplitude variation (salient configurations: large pitch variation plus pitch contour up, fast tempo plus few harmonics)|
|Sadness||Slow tempo, low pitch level, few harmonics, round envelope, pitch contour down (salient configuration: low pitch level plus slow tempo)|
|Surprise||Fast tempo, high pitch level, pitch contour up, sharp envelope, many harmonics, large pitch variation (salient configuration: high pitch level plus fast tempo)|
|Single acoustiv parameters (main effects) and configurations (interaction effects) are listed in order of predictive strenght. SOURCE: From "Cue Utilization in Emotion Attribution from Auditory Stimuli" by Klaus R. Scherer and James S. Oshinsky, Motivation and Emotion, 1, No. 4 (1977), p. 340. [Burgoon & Saine 1978: 205]|
While culture is an important factor in regulating the area of emotional expression, the kinds of emotional cues provided by the face are common to all cultures. The face actually communicates three types of signals: static, slow, and rapid. Static signals are the permanent features of the face such as skin color and bone structure. Slow signals tend to alter gradually over time as is the case with skin texture and wrinkles. Our primary concern in studying the communicaton of emotion is the rapid signals. These provide the primary cues about affect, including all the kinesic movements usually associated with the face. (Burgoon & Saine 1978: 206)It is interesting that here, implicitly quoting Ekman, they forget their own differentiation of communication and information. For me, at the moment, is important that facial asymmetry manifests itself in all these types of signals: static signals in jaw and chin bone sizes and amount of cells; slow signals in the configurations that results from asymmetric facial features (such as wrinkling on one side of the face); and rapid signals most especially in the case of the inactive brow.
- Alloway, T., Krames, L., and Pliner, P. (eds.). Communication and Affects: A Comparative Approach. New York: Academic Press, 1972.
- Ekman, P., Ellsworth, P., and Friesen, W. V. Emotion in the Human Face: Guidelines for Research and an Integration of Findings. New York: Pergamon Press, 1971.
- Izard, C. The Face of Emotion. New York: Appleton-Century-Crofts, 1971.
- Plutchik, R. The Emotions: Facts, Theory and a New Model. New York: Random House, 1962.
- Wood, B. S. Children and Communication: Verbal and Nonverbal Language Development. Englewood Cliffs, N. J.: Prentice-Hall, 1976.
9. The Regulation of Interaction
- A. Kendon, R. Harrus, and M. Key (eds.), Orgnaization of Behavior in Face-to-Face Interaction. The Hague: Mouton, 1975.
10. The Presentation of Self
Three Theories of Role PlayingThus far I only knew about the dramaturgical approach; but this simple guide seems sufficient to discriminate varieties of self-presentation. In a broad simplificatory scheme ingratiation theory has to do with attraction (sex) and impression management with influence (power).
Role theory has generally failed to explain how a person goes about consciously preparing to assume a role. Three theoretical perspectives have contributed greatly to our understanding of how a communicator conveys impressions through nonverbal behavior. E. E. Jones has advances ingratiation theory as an explanation of how people give a favorable impression of themselves. Jones has focuses on a specific set of ingratiatory behaviors - that is, behaviors that bring one into the good graces of another. As a general strategy, ingratiation is an attempt to increase one's attractiveness to another by generating an appreciation for certain personal qualities. The primary motive underlying self-presentation, according to Jones, is the desire to be seen as attractive. A person can, through subtle nonverbal and verbal actions, maximise another's feelings of attraction. And attraction is power. We tend not to jeopardize or criticize those to whom we are attracted. Consequently, by increasing our attractiveness to others, we make it possible to act without fear of reprisal.
Impression management theory provides a second perspective on self-presentation. Impression management advocates have argued that individuals consciously conduct themselves in ways that enlarge their impact and influence upon others. We tailor our self-presentation to the audience at hand, building our presentation on the kinds of prior information about us that an audience may have an adapting our communication to their needs, attitudes, and values. Therefore, we can study a leader's success with an audience, or a speaker's success with a class by investigating the kinds of impressions constructed, the verbal and nonverbal behaviors employed, and the suitability of the impression to the audience.
Dramaturgic analysis combines elements of both ingratiation theory and impression management theory. It is this theory with which we shall concern ourselves throughout the rest of this chapter. Dramaturgic analysis explores how the performer goes about "staging" the performance of his or her role. Erving Goffman has done much to advocate our understanding of the various techniques, strategies, problems, and verbal as well as nonverbal skills that may be necessary to the successful enactment of a role - the successful presentation of self. (Burgoon & Saine 1978: 246)
An actor must appear satisfied with the role. Goffman has referred to this as the "impression of sacred compatibility" between an individual and the job. Whatever the action demanded of a performer, the presentation will not be successful if the audience does not sense a coordination betweenn actor and role. For example, a doctor who appears to be too young may not seem suited to a position of such responsibility. Kenneth Burke refers to much the same condition as actor - act ratio. If an action is not appropriate to an actor, then the credibility of the performance must be in doubt."If you're a poor man's version of ANYTHING it's your self-perception." - Sage Fracis (Different)
It is characteristic of successful performances that the action reveals an idealized actor - an actor performing an idealized version of the role. Goffman points out that most of us have an ideal self that usually departs in some significant respect from our self-concept. Since we seldom desire others to sense our self-doubt, confusion, and insecurity, we portray our skills and strenghts and conceal the aspects of self that are not respectable and, if known, might jeopardize the outcome of the interaction. (Burgoon & Saine 1978: 250)
Goffman acknowledges a third role the body can perform with respect to the communication of frames. The body can be used as a key to indicate that a frame traditionally associated with a particular action is not the appropriate frame for understanding what is going on. Keying involves a kind of transformation of meaning. When changing frames, we usually send a number of keys to indicate when the new frame takes effect and when it is no longer appropriate. Make-believe situations (situations in which some fantasy or fabrication is consciously being enacted), contests (boximg, sparring, fox hunt, fencing, and so on), ceremonials (weddings, coronations, ordinations), technical reenactments (performances undertaken with the understanding that the consequences are not the typical ones and that the purpose behind the performance is instructional) are examples of types of performances that rely on certain keys to indicate to observers that the meaning intended by the action departs in some way from traditional intrpretations. (Burgoon & Saine 1978: 252)Is it a coincidence that Ju. Lotman in discussing theater and theatricality refers to a "key" (1976b: 38) which enables to "harmonize the viewpoint [frame] of the narrator [interpreter] with the position of the person being discussed"? The time-span is very small: Goffman's Frame Analysis was published in 1974; the article by Lotman was translated and published in 1976; it would have meant that the Russian academics had translated Goffman very quickly, in less than a year's time at least. A time machine is in great need in disentangling the webs of scientific interference.
Institutions, whether social, academic, governmental, religious, or commercial, pose special challenges and obstacles to formulating and communicating a favorable impression of self. Institutions are sustained and vitalized by the allegiance, involvement, and energies of the members. Without their support, whether willing or otherwise, the influence and resources of an organization cannot long be maintained. This is especially the case for universities, boarding schools, military units, convents and monasteries, camps, mental hospitals, penal institutions - what Goffman has referred to as total institutions because of the degree of control they maintain over the lives of their members. Such settings have a direct bearing on the kinds of nonverbal behaviors an individual can use in communicating an impression of self. (Burgoon & Saine 1978: 260)This is a good term for such institutions.
Some institutions make a practie of reinforced property dispossession as one means of restricting self-presentational behavior. Many of the props used in preparing one's personal front - including wardrobe, make-up, cigarettes - are replaced by institutional equipment designed to create the appearance of uniformity. The military provides what is known as "army issue," replacing personal equipment with military provisions. (Burgoon & Saine 1978: 260)This is exactly why there are some who continue to wear camouflague in the public (while no apparent military training is going on): a weak mind may succumb to the dispossession of self-presentation and take on the institutional-presentation thus afforded to them. Being part of a total institution is a major part of identity construction.
Self-distantiation can also be achieved by forcing people to engage in self-degrading behaviors. Many institutions have rites of membership requiring new members to perform self-demeaning actions in order to demonstrate their allegience to the organization. (Burgoon & Saine 1978: 261)Like digging one's own grave during military training. On the one hand is is an instrumental act that needs to be practice, on the other hand being forced to dig a grave during the night with the commander framing it as if you are digging it for yourself and for immediate use - is a form of self-distantiation. The sense of being a body capable of self-directed life-planning is thus removed and allegiance ensues.
Often work schedules in institutions require members to serve others, to perform menial or tedious tasks. These tasks are accompanied by nonverbal behaviors that convey disaffection from self. "Given the expressive idiom of a particular civil society, certain movements, postures, and stances will convey lowly images of the individual and be avoided as demeaning. Any regulation, command, or task that forces the individual to adopt these movements or postures may morfity his self." (Burgoon & Saine 1978: 261)Goffman's Asylums, pp. 21-22. What we have here is a description of the effects of discipline: being forced to enact certain demeaning movements or poses will in fact condition the person to enact them voluntarily. I have wondered if it would be possible to go through the military training and at the parade when the president is walking past and/or shaking hands, raise the middle finger instead... But the chances are great that the effects of self-mortification will be so great that it would be practically impossible.
A last method of adapting to the institutional environment is called conversion. One can cope with the pressures of an institution simply by succumbing, by coming to believe in his or her inadequacy, by accepting the concept of self developed by the institution. By converting, one accepts a negative self-image, adopting the nonverbal behaviors that signify dependence. One willingly engages in self-degrading postures, self-criticism, and self-abuse. (Burgoon & Saine 1978: 262)Description of self-mortification. The mort here is definitely appropriate, as it comes from Latin mors or mortem and signifies death, corpse, and annihilation; in French - dead person.
11. Manipulating Others
Some scholars wonder whether it is ethical to expose students to this kind of information, feeling that it may teach them to become better manipulators. We feel that, since everyone uses these techniques to some degree without ever realizing it, we might as well bring them under conscious control. Manipulating others is not inherently bad. After all, manipulating others includes teaching children new concpets, social rules, and cultural values; persuading a friend to go a lecture; helping a spouse show more affection. The therapist, salesperson, politician, teacher, and priest are openly dedicated to influencing others. We are all the target of endless persuasion campaigns in the mass media. The fact that we all consume manipulative techniques is in itself the most compelling reason for familiarizing ourselves with the research on the subject. If we become better informed, we can resist subtle influence that we consider inappropriate. (Burgoon & Saine 1978: 274)A valid justification, but also includes the effect that becoming knowledgeable about these subtle forms of influence can ruin many social phenomena for us. Students of semiotics are warned that learning semiotics can take away the "magic" of many things, including beautiful stuff like poetry.