Theory (e.g., Semiotics)
and Nonverbal Comm.
Semantics - the study of how signs relate
to things ... the sign as designator.
Syntactics - the study of how signs relate
to other signs … how are signs organized into sign systems?
Pragmatics - they study of how codes are used
in everyday life.
Semantics - What does the nonverbal sign mean?
Syntactics - How does the nonverbal sign relate
to other signs?
Pragmatics - How does the nonverbal sign (or
its group of signs) affect behavior?
Analogic - continuous, forming a spectrum
Iconicity - resemblance to the thing being
Universal meaning - some codes may be biologically
determined` e.g., emotions
Simultaneous transmission - several nonverbal
messages can be sent at once.
According to anthropologist Edward Hall,
proxemics refers to the study of how humans construct and manage “microspace”--the
distance between people in the conduct of everyday transactions, the organization
of space in their houses and buildings, and the designof their towns.
-- Hall, The Silent Language, 1959; The
Hidden Dimension, 1966.
- Space and Distance
The ways in which space is used and interpreted
are cultural matters.
Humans’ use of space can be thought of as
a specialized elaboration of culture.
Proxemics is related to haptics - touching
behavior; commmunication via touch.
To what other mediums and forms of nonverbal
behavior does space relate?
Types of Space
Types of Distance
Factors in Conversation
Sociofugal (discouragement of interaction)
and sociopetal (encouragement of interaction) axis
Kinesthetic factors (body and distance)
Distance Factors in Conversation
Visual Code (eye contact)
Thermal code (perceived heat)
Paralinguistic Code (e.g., voice loudness)
Kinesics is the nonverbal code system
of bodily activity; “body language.”
Major theorists are R. Birdwhistell, and
P. Ekman and W. Friesen
Birdwhistell’s Six Key Assumptions
1. All body movements have meaning
potential in communicative contexts.
2. Behavior can be analyzed because
of patterns and repetitions.
3. Although body action has biological
limits, the use of body motion in interaction is part of the social system.
4. People’s visual bodily activity
can influence others.
5. Communicative functions of bodily
activity can be studied.
6. A person’s use of bodily activity will
have unique, idiocyncratic aspects while also being part of a larger social
system shared with others.
-- R. Birdwhistell, Kinesics and Context,
- Ekman and Friesen
Ekman and Friesen’s work emphasizes face
and hands. They propose three ways to analyze nonverbal behavior:
1. Origin - source of the act (innate,
species-constant, or variant).
2. Coding - the act-meaning relationship
(arbitrary, iconic, intrinsic).
3. Usage - what does the behavior
do, how does it convey information (communicative act, interactive act).
Ekman and Friesen assert that all nonverbal
behavior is one of five types:
1. Emblems - precise meaning
2. Illustrators - depict verbal
3. Adapters - facilitate release
of bodily tension
4. Regulators - control or coordinate
5. Affect displays - presentation
of feelings and emotions
-- Ekman & Friesen, Unmasking the
1. Baton - movements that emphasize
2. Ideograph -“sketch” of a thought’s
3. Deictic movement - pointing
4. Spatial movement - identifying
5. Rhythmic movement - pacing motion
6. Kinetograph - depicting physical
7. Pictograph - drawing a picture
in the air
8. Emblematic movement - illustrating
a verbal movement
of Nonverbal Comm…. Some Key Questions
1. How do people learn nonverbal
behavior is some learned, some not learned)?
2. What relationship exists between
nonverbal behavior and verbal behavior?
3. Does all nonverbal behavior communicate?
4. Does understanding nonverbal
behavior help us communicate well?