Physiological Aspects of Communication

Mazur, Allan, Eugene Rosa, Mark Faupel, Joshua Heller, Russell Leen and Blake Thurman 1980. Physiological Aspects of Communication Via Mutual Gaze. American Journal of Sociology 86(1): 50-74.

Our concern with physiology is based on the common notion that many emotions and forms of motivation have visceral substrata, a point amply documented in the literature of physiological psychology. At one time, it was thought that each emotion had a characteristic pattern of somatic effects, but this view has not received much empirical support. Theoretical opinion has shifted to the view that the same pattern of visceral arousal may serve as the basis of several different emotions, the particular emotion that is experienced being identified through cues in one's environment. This view gained considerable support from a classic experiment by Schachter and Singer (1962), who were able to induce two different emotions, anger and euphoria, in subjects experiencing physiological arousal from injections of adrenaline. The particular emotion induced depended on cues received by the subjects from an experimental confederate who acted out either a happy or an angry role, depending on conditions. It would be incorrect to conclude that physiology is irrelevant to emotions. Adrenaline arousal was a prerequisite for eliciting both emotional responses. (Mazur et al. 1980: 51)
This may be one way to approach emotions semiotically (the "cues" part).
Thus, our present state of knowledge indicates an intimate but complex (and probably indirect) link between cognitive and visceral elements of emotion and motivation. (Mazur et al. 1980: 51)
Although, pansemiotically, I would inscribe some form of semiosis for both the cognitive and visceral elements.
It is common among primates to establish and maintain a status hierarchy through a series of face-to-face encounters among the members of the group. At one extreme, these encounters involve fierce combat to determine the victor and vanquished. At the other extreme, very mild signals exchanged between two animals, perhaps a look or an eyebrow movement, may establish which is to be the more dominant. A mechanism postulated to operate across this range is the manipulation of discomfort levels during these encounters. An exchange of threats or attacks is seen as an attempt by each animal to "outstress" the other by inducing fear, anxiety, or pain. The animal that outstresses his adversary is the winner. When animals are unevenly matched at the outset, as when one is obviously more powerful or the other has a very low anxiety treshold, a simple stare by the powerful animal, followed by eye aversion by the submissive animal, suffices to establish status placement. (Mazur et al. 1980: 52)
This is why I took up this article: the manipulation of discomfort may be the key to unlocking the dysphoric aspects of dystopian literature.
Eyebrow positions convey a particularly wide range of meanings in conjunction with a direct gaze. Stares accompanied by lowered brows show anger, aggression, or assertiveness; while raised brows show fear, surprise, disgust, questioning, or retreat (Blurton-Jones and Konner 1971; Brannigan and Humphries 1972; Ekman and Friesen 1975). American respondents judged portrait models to be more dominant when posed with their brows lowered than when posed with brows raised (Keating et al. 1977). We found this eyebrow "singaling" a convenient device to test the hypothesis that an actor can manipulate another person's physiology by variations in gaze behavior. A gaze accompanied by lowered brows should be perceived as more assertive or dominating, and therefore be a greater stressor, than a gaze accompanied by raised brows. (Mazur et al. 1980: 63)
Neat. #eyebrows - the practical deduction one can make of this is that when in need to stress another out, stare at him with lowered eyebrows.
Our finding that Ss' levels of comfort during the staredown predict degree of dominance in subsequent interaction is consistent with two models of status of formation. The staredown may serve as a contest in hiwhc each person tries to "outstress" the other. The "winner" is the person who subjectively experiences less discomfort during the contest and, having won, he or she is likely to take the dominant role in the conversation and decisionmaking task, a role which the "loser" accepts. In this interpretation, the staredown is decisive; its outcome affects subsequent relations between the individuals involved. (Mazur et al. 1980: 70)
All in all this is a pretty good hint towards stress-based approach to nonverbal power.

Miller, Walter B. 1955. Two Concepts of Authority. American Anthropologist 57(2): 271-289.

...Europeans were struck by what appeared to them a most remarkable phenomenon: The Central Algonkians seemed to carry out their subsistence, religious, administrative, and military activities in the virtual absence of any sort of recognizable authority! (Miller 1955: 271)
There are indeed many forms of social organizations and some are not based on authority.
Subordination is not a maxim among these savages; the savage does not know what it is to obey. ... It is more necessary to entreat him than to command him. ... The father does not venture to exercise authority over his son, nor does the chief dare give commands to his soldiers. ... if any is stubborn in regard to some proposed movement, it is necessary to flatter him in order to dissuade him, otherwise he will go further in his opposition (Blair 1911: 145 in Miller 1955: 271)
I think this is how it should be.
...the savages ... think it unaccountable that one man should have more than another, and that the rich should have more respect than the poor; they value themselves amove anything you can imagine, and this is the reason they always give for it - that one man's as much master as another, and since all men are made of the same clay, there should be no distinction or superiority among them. (Thwaiter, 1905, II: 499 in Miller 1955: 272)
Sounds good. Especially by the argument that all men are made the same. In this light hierarchical forms of social organization are illegitimate.
...Lamothe Cadillac ... has proposed ... to organize complete companies of Indians ... it appears to me extraordinary to undertake to discipline people who possess no subordination among themselves, and whose chiefs cannot say to the others, "Do thus and so", but merely "it would be proper to do so and so," without naming any person. Otherwise they would do nothing, being opposed to all restrain. Moreover, these people have no idea of royal grandeur nor majesty, nor of the power of superiors over inferiors, and thus would not feel among themselves any emulation or ambition to reach these ... honors, and consequently no desire to perform their duties. Neither would they be influenced thereto by fear of punishment, for, not tolerating any among themselves, they would suffer still less that others should inflict any on them. (d'Aigremont, in Thwaiter 1902: 150 in Miller 1955: 272)
The citations are getting ridiculous, but there is a good point here. This is how anarchist organizations imagine themselves to work: no orders, just sensible suggestions.
In the hands of my Superior, I must be a soft wax, a thing, from which he is to require whatever pleases him, be it to write or receive letters, to speak or not to speak, to such a person, or the like; and I must put all my fervor in executing zealously and exactly what I am ordered. I must consider myself as a corpse which has neither intelligence nor will; be like a mass of matter which without resistance lets itself be placed wherever it may please anyone; like a stick in the hands of an old man, who uses it according to his needs and places it where it suits him. So must I be under the hands of the Order, to serve it in the way it judges most useful.
I must never ask of the Superior to be sent to a particular place, to be employed in a particular duty ... I must ... be like a statue which lets itself be stripped and never opposes resistance. (quoted in James 1902: 307, 308 in Miller 1955: 274)
More awful lengty citations, but the words themselves are good enough to perhaps be quotable without the citation. The attitude expressed in this passage belongs to Ignatius Loyola, it describes the relationship between the Jesuit priest and his Superior. Curiously, it it exactly the attitude that seems to be taken in modern military practice towards human bodies - that they should be as a corpse or a statue, a form of soft wax that can be molded into whatever the Total Institution desires (is in need of). The source is William James' The varieties of religious experience.
To most present-day Europeans, the amount of authority exercised by the sixth-century English Lord, the sixteenth-century Jesuit Superior, and the seventeenth-century French King appears extreme. However, in present-day European societies there are numerous role-relationships that share, in less extreme form, certain characteristics of these earlier prototypes. Setting aside contemporary role-relationships such as the Führer-citizen relationship of Nazi Germany or the COmmissar-comrade relationship in Soviet Russia, Europeans are familiar with numerous less spectacular role-relationships that entail the exercise of authority, and which they accept as a normal and necessary part of life. Some of these are: master-servant, officer-enlisted man, boss-employee, teacher-pupil, parent-child, foreman-worker, pastor-parishioner, orchestra leader-sideman, coach-team member, director-cast member, captain-crew member, doctor-patient, chief-staff member. (Miller 1955: 274-275)
Miller saw what I saw - that these forms of authority are not merely historical curiosities, but have trickled down in history to mdoern day. I'm especially interested in the officer-enlisted man role-relationship.
It would seldom occur to the average European to question the validity of such relationships. The amount of authority they involve is not seen as excessive, but as normal and right. Europeans accept the fact that the functioning of their factories, hospitals, churches, and other orgnaized institutions depend on the authority exercised through these role-relationships and others like them. But a member of the sixteenth-century Algonkian society would regard such authority as oppressive and intolerable. (Miller 1955: 275)
This is also how modern anarchists regard authority.
The Relationship Viewed Analytically. Examined analytically, a number of important characteristics of this type of role-relationship can be isolated. From a "structural" viewpoint the relationship can be considered a kind of patterned interaction between individuals, with certain distinctive features, six of which will be cited:
(1) The directive component. The defining characteristic of this relationship is that by virtue of occupying a given position in a patterned role-relationship, one individual is empowered to direct the actions of another, and the other is obliged to accept that direction.
(2) Role-based. The relationship is between role and role, not between individual and individual. The relationship of usperordination-subordination is inherent in the definition of the role-relationship, and relatively independent of the personal qualities of the individual who happen to fill thes eroles. This characteristic is clearly brought out by the familiar military injunction, "Salute the uniform, not the man."
(3) Performance. The role-relationship is associated with a set of continuing or recurring activities, and tenure by the incumbents of the respective role positions is extended through time. Thus, the "general-private" relationship does not provide that the general direct the private under one set of circumstances, and the private the general under another, in so far as they ar eactive as incumbents of these roles. If the authority prerogatives of incumbents are altered or reversed, it is because they are acting as incumbents of other role-positions. For example, as individual who usually fills the role of "boss" may accept direction from someone who usually fills the role of "employee," if, at an office party, the employee is acting as "square dance-caller," and the boss as "dancer."
(4) Prestige differential. The occupant of the superior role position is accorded greater prestige than the occupant of the subordinate position. This superior prestige is manifested in various ways, e.g.: diference patterns, symbols of superior status, reward differential. The behavior of subordinate to superior serves to affirm the inequality of status. Examples of such behavior are the salute, the bow, standing at attention, waiting to be addressed before speaing, and the use of "sir," "mister," "doctor," or "your honor." Differences in wearing apparel or ornamentation are frequently associated with this differential prestige. The ornate and resplendent "royal trappings" of a monarch are an extreme example, but military insignia and other forms of personal adornment serve also to indicate differences in status. When some compensation for role-performance is present, the occupant of the superior status position generally receives more. These externally discrenible differences in behavior, dress, and reward symbolize the fact that members of this type of role-relationships are differentially ranked, and that the occupant of the superordinate role has greater access to and control over valued social resources.
(5) Functional differential. Although engaged in a common enterprise, occupants of the two role positions each perform a different aspect of the total task. The incumbent of the superordinate role position generally plays a more passive part in relation to the actual execution of activity, and a more active part in relation to its direction.
(6) Differential access to system of rules. The incumbents of the two role positions have differential access to the body of roles governing their conduct. The great majority of collective enterprises are conducted according to a body of rules, or instructions as to procedure, worked out in advance. The exercise of authority can be described as a mode of transmuting such rules into action. An order can be seen as a selection and/or arrangement of one or more of these rules, communicated from one agency to another.
The incumbent of the superordinate role position has more direct access to this body of procedural directives. He has the prerogative of communicating selected directives to his subordinate, a communication having the force of a commnad. This process occurs when a drill sergeant orders "Squads right," a clergyman directs "Turn to hymn 36," or when an administrator pencils "Act on this" on a communique from a higher echelon. (Miller 1955: 275-276)
Invaluable analysis of role-relationships in terms of authority.
In general, the structure of authority is pictured as pyramidal, with greatest authority at a relatively narrow apex, and more diffuse authority at invreasingly lower levels. MacIver (1947: 82-113) speaks of the "pyramid of power," and utilizes the pyramidal form t represent different kinds of governmental structures. (Miller 1955: 277)
Source: MacIver, Robert M. 1947. The web of government
The vertical authority relationship is a fundemantal building block of European society. Without it the phenomenon of "ranked" authority - where given individuals are permanently empowered to direct others - would be impossible, and ranked authority is an indispensable feature of European organizational systems.
A society where authority is concpetualized in a different way would have to organize collective activity according to different principles. Following sections will describe how a Central Algonkian society conceived of authority and organized collective action. (Miller 1955: 278)
Getting right to the point.
The basic concept of Fox religion is manitu (see Jones 1905). Manitu is a king of generalized essence of supernatural power. It has been compared with concepts such as Polynesian "mana" - an abstract, impersonal power immanent in the universe. But the Fox themselves never think of manitu in this way. Manitu power is actualized or manifested only when it is acquired by some particular being who then becomes manitu, and is called "a manitu." A significant characteristic of manitu power is that it is never possessed permanently by any being or group of beings; it is always held conditionally. It is lost, gained, lost again - its possession being measured by quality of performance in a particular area of activity. To succeed means that manitu power is possessed; to fail means that it is lost. (Miller 1955: 279)
Manitu sounds like mojo in modern terms, or simply self-confidence [enesekindlus]. In any case: #belief
Manitu power represents to the Fox a vital and absorbing aspect of interpersonal relations - the ability to control, automatically and magicaly, the actions of others. Its characteristics, as they emerge form a consideration of relations within the Fox pantheon, can be described in the abstract.
Power is unversally available and unlimited; it does not have a unitary locus; it is everywhere, and equally available to all.
The possession of power is temporary and contingent; it is not a quality permanently possessed by any being, but can be gained and lost, possession being demonstrated by successful performance in specific situations.
Demonstrated power does not grant to its possessor the subsequent right to direct the actions of any other being.
Power is not hierarchical; since its possession is temporary and contingent, fixed and varying amounts of power are not distributed among a group of beings arranged in a stable hierarchy.
The control of power is dangerous; powerful beings are to be feared, not adored or admired.
Thus even in its purest conceptualized form, "manitu power," the ability to control others, emerges as substantially different from the European concept of vertical authority. The concept of manitu served as a fundamental percept governing concrete day-to-day behavior in Fox life. As a guide to interpersonal relations it had this implication: it is both dangerous and immoral for one individual to exercise any substantial control over others. As a personal attitude it was manifested as an intense and deep-rooted resentment of anything perceived as an attempt to control one's actions. (Miller 1955: 282-283)
This resembles Foucault's conception of (positive) power.
The role of ceremony leader similarly involved very little authority. The ceremony leader was a man who had committed to memory one or more of the many religious rituals which played so important a part in Fox life. He put people through the paces of a given religious ceremony, signaling beginnings and endings of a preset seuence of traditionally prescribed ritual episodes. His functions did not include formulation or initiation of religious acitvity; he did not serve to mediate the relationship between man and manitu; and, like the war chief, his authority functions were limited to the duration of the ritual itself and did not extend beyond the area of ceremonial activity. (Miller 1955: 284)
A useful insight into the role of the ceremony master.
A fox taking part in a fairly large and complex organized enterprise (200-300 people) conducted each year was asked how he knew so well what to do without being told. His answer was, "I just do the same as I did last year."
This answer furnishes a key to understanding the Fox method of co-ordinating collective action. Just as each individual related himself directly to the source of supernatural power, each individual participating in organized activity related himself directly to the body of procedural rules governing that activity. He was free to select and execute appropriate modes of action; his access to procedural rules was not mediated through another person who transmitted these rules to him. (Miller 1955: 285)
This is also the key to direct action - nobody tells you what to do, you decide for yourself. Also, check out: Bierstedt, Robert 1950. An analysis of social power. American Sociological Review 15:730-38. And define:miscellany

Synnott, Anthony 1989. Truth and Goodness, Mirrors and Masks - Part I: A Sociology of Beauty and the Face. The British Journal of Sociology 40(4): 607-636.

What is the face? The face, as unique, physical, malleable and public is the prime symbol of the self. It is unique, for no two faces are identical, and it is in the face that we recognize each other, and identify ourselves. Our faces are pictures in our passports and identification papers. The face is physical, and therefore personal and intimate, yet the face is also 'made up', 'put on' and subject to fashion. It is üublic, but also intensely private and intimate. And, malleable, with its eighty mimetic muscles, the face is capable of over 7,000 expressions. (Synnott 1989: 607)
And according to some theories, to some degree determined by cultural factors. I.e. since even facial gestures are learned and modify the tissue structures of the face it is prone to be formed by its cultural environment.
The face, however, and indeed beauty and the physical body also, have been largely ignored by mainstream sociology, at least until relatively recently. Only Simmel (1901/1965) and Veblen (1899/1953) among the early sociologists and later Mauss (1936/1973) and Mead (1949) concerned themselves seriously with this area which we now refer to as the sociology of the body (Douglas 1973; Polhemus 1978; Turner 1984; Berthelot et al. 1985; Synnott 1987). (Synnott 1989: 607-608)
There are of course readers [lugemikud] on the sociology of the body available today. The sources refered to here are:
  • Simmel, George 1965. Essays on Sociology, Philosophy and Aesthetics. Edited by Kurt H. Wolff. New York: Harper Torchbooks.
  • Veblen, Thorstein 1953 [1899]. The Theory of the Leisure Class. New York: The New American Library.
  • Mead, Margaret 1977 [1949]. Male and Female. New York: Morrow Quill.
  • Douglas, Mary 1973. Natural Symbols. Penguin Books.
  • Polhemus, Ted (ed.), 1978. Social Aspects of the Human Body. Penguin Books.
  • Turner, Bryan S. 1984. The Body and Society. Oxford: Blackwell.
  • Berthelot, J. M. et al. 1985. 'Les Sociologies et le Corps'. Current Sociology 33.
  • Synnott, Anthony 1987. 'Shame and Glory: A Sociology of Hair'. British Journal of Sociology 381-413. [JSTOR]
Our principal concern here is the semiotics of beauty, especially facial beauty, however defined. (Synnott 1989: 610)
Ah, and the title of the piece is "A Sociology of beauty..." Apparently, the two signify identical concerns.
Plato's ascetic attitude to beauty and the body was strongly influenced by the Orphic doctrine of soma - sema; body - tomb. In Phaedo (65c-67d), Socrates explains that the body is an 'impediment', and 'imperfection', 'interrupting, distrurbing, distracting and preventing us from getting a glimpse of the truth'; it is impure and infects, contaminates, enslaces and shackles us. Indeed it is a source of evil (1963: 48-50). Again it is a prison (Phaedo 82; Phaedrus 250; 1963: 66, 497); an enemoy (Timaeus 70e, 1963: 1194); and perhaps a tomb, as the Orphics believed (Cratulus 400c; Gorgias 493a; 1963: 437, 275). The range of metaphors is startling, but the dualism is clear. Body and soul are not only separate and unequal but opposed as inferior to superior. (Synnott 1989: 613)
This is exactly the motive (and perhaps even exact passage) which I was taken by when I tried to read Apology by Plato when I was 18.
Aristotle did not develop Plato's theory of beauty as goodness, indeed he distinguished between them, for goodness 'implies conduct as its subject, while the beautiful is found also in motionless things'; but he did define beauty: 'The chief forms of beauty are order and symmetry and definiteness', or proportion in other translations (Metaphysics 1078; 1984: 1705). (Synnott 1989: 614)
Aristotle has a point. Goodness describes conduct, action, motion. A person can be beautiful while doing nothing but s/he cannot be good without doing something.
Where Aristotle had emphasized the structure of the face, Cicero emphasized its expressiveness: 'everything is in the face, and the face in turn is totally dominated by the eyes ... the face is the mirror of the soul ... for this is the only part of the body capable of displaying as many expressions as there are emotions' (Vol. 2, 1960: 176). (Synnott 1989: 614)
Haha. That does sound like Cicero (judging by what Aldrete has quoted from him). The "haha" is because the popular saying goes "the eyes are the window to the soul" and it is probably a mutation of Cicero's claim that eyes dominate face and face is the mirror of the soul.
Studies on body language and face language promise to reveal the truths about moods and feelings, as well as character (Fast 1971; Hall 1973; Nierenberg and Calero 1973; Davis 1976). And extravagant and unsubstantiated claims may be made: 'The face reveals facts not only about a person's mood, but also about his character, health, personality, sex life, popularity, ability to make money, social status and life expectancy' (Knapp 1980: 179). Perhaps the most presumptuous physiognomist of the century, however, is Kahlil Gibran: 'Show me your mother's face; I will tell you who you are' (1962: n.p.). (Synnott 1989: 616)
I do enjoy the fact that Synnott lumps these popular body language writers together with physiognomics and phrenology.
We ourselves possess beauty when we are true to our own being; our ugliness is in going over to another order; our self-knowledge, that is to say, is our beauty; in self-ignorance we are ugly. (Synnott 1989: 618)
This quote belongs to Plato, but the citation does not matter. What matters for me is that it links up with authority discussed in previous paper I read. The Fox were beautiful for they possessed self-knowledge, willer their own actions; while in military service you are forced to bid for anonymous other, deemed to self-ignorance without a will or reason.
Aquinas observed (Summa Theologiae 1: 91, 3, 3; Vol. 13, 1981: 29):
other animals have their faces close to the ground, as if to look for good and provender; while man has his face on top, in order that his senses, and especially the sense of sight ... may be free to become aware of sense objects in every direction, on the earth and in the heavens, so that from them all he may gather intelligible truth.
(Synnott 1989: 620)
For some unexplainable reason I like this.
Thorstein Veblen offered the first sociological theory of beauty, suggesting that 'the utility of articles valued for their beauty depends closely upon the expensiveness of the article' (1953: 94); beginning with spoons, he then discussed the aesthetic values of parks and laws, cats and dogs, and finally dress, men and particularly women. Of the ideal of feminine beauty, he observed (1953: 107)
The ideal requires delicate and diminutive hands and feet and a slender waist. These features ... go to show that the person so affected is incapable of useful effort and must therefore be suppored in idleness by her owner. She is useless and expensive, and she is consequently valuable as evidence of pecuniary strenght.
Thus the beautiful woman is a status symbol; she not only does not work, but cannot work; long hair, corsets, high heels, long dresses, and so on, are intended to indicate this: they too are status sybols; and the decoration of the woman with jewellery, making her an expensive ornament, reinforces this process, as does the attention to fashion and 'the alleged beauty, or 'loveliness' of the styles in vogue at any given time' (1953: 121, 125-6). Feminists in the second half of this century developed some of these ideas further, as we shall see. (Synnott 1989: 629)
Aha! So Veblen might have been the source for the modern phrase "a trophy wife".


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