Body Position: A Blend of Science and Art


Student-Body-Language-Poster2.jpgOn Tuesday we learned about how certain body posture can make a person feel more powerful because of how it affects hormones. I thought this was very interesting because in CAS100 A I learned how certain body language will determine how people perceive you. The reason I thought this was intriguing is because  the body language that makes people feel powerful or timid that was taught in a science course  is similar as the body language that  determines the perception of someone that was in a a communication course. Scientists have figured out what effect posture will have but haven't figured out why, whereas, body language experts know both. The factor in the art of nonverbal communication is that is the most intiguing in matters of scence is that the meaning of gestures and positions differ in each coutry. With this being known, how can the science of posture be apllicable too everyone? This leads me to believe that the chemical reactions that happen as a result of posture is a psycological response.


In a documentary on body language from the History Channel, you will see a clip of a photo-op with President Clinton, Israel Prime Minister Barak, and Palestine Liberation Organization Chairman Yasser Arafat. As they go inside a building for their meeting, Arafat and Barak have what seems to be a friendly scuffle, but their smiles were just to look professional and civil, because it actually was a near fight for dominance. In the USA letting someone walk through a door before you is a mere common courtesy but it in the Middle East it symbolizes power. It nonverbally says "I'm in control here, so I already know what to do, so you come in first so that can lead." Due to these cultural differences Clinton walked through without any problem and felt content, meanwhile, Barak and Arafat were being aggressive toward each other. Barak won the altercation has he pushes him through, which I am sure gave him a sense of pride and irritated Arafat. If the physical effects of body positioning are universal than we all would be shoving people through doors (imagine walking through the library revolving door).

The documentary also mentions that Bill Clinton shakes his head as he is denying his sexual allegations with Monica Lewinsky. Wendy Williams recognizes the same thing in a Paula Deen apology video for scandal. Shaking your  head means basically "no" in our culture and nodding means yes, so for Clinton and Deen to do it during these moments indicates insincerity. Contrary to us shaking your head in Bulgaria means yes and nodding means no. Clinton's and Deen's head movements were subconscious unintentional actions, such as, moving quickly and having an adrenaline rush when are frightened, however, it is different in that it was learned because it is a norm of our society, therefore, Deen and Clinton would have responded oppositely if they were Bulgarian.

As I said before, scientist have discovered what postures and positions make us feel more powerful but have not discovered why, so I did not find a lot of research on my specific topic. The majority of what I found was about the various ways gestures are interpreted other cultures, but based on the little I found and observed I cannot confidently say that my theory is accurate. Nothing I found included anything about the chemical reactions that occur using these gestures. Perhaps scientist and body language experts can work together to find answer.

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