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Gestures & Touch


Gestures
 
Gestures include communication through eye contact, body posture, hand signals, and facial expressions; however, here we will focus on hand signals as the other forms can be found in other tabs.
The use of Gestures in Nonverbal Communication falls under "Chironomia", the art of using hand gestures in order to communicate, or "Kinesics" which is the interpretation of non-verbal behaviour involving movement. 
 
 Examples of communicative gestures are waving, saluting, handshakes, pointing, or a thumbs up.
 
There are voluntary and involuntary gestures. Waving to a friend would be an intentional method of saying hello, while throwing one's arms up in exasperation may be an involuntary reaction to feelings of frustration or anger.
 
Gestures are not universal, what may mean one thing for us can mean something entirely different for another culture. For example, nodding one's head in Canada means 'yes', while nodding one's head in Bulgaria means 'no'. Although gestures do not carry the same meaning across different cultures, they are universal in the sense that every culture uses them; there have been no reports of communities that do not use gestures.
 
Sign language involves an entire repertoire of hand gestures that create a language for those who cannot speak orally, this is categorized as a "gestural language".
 
Gestures can be the most effective non-verbal tools to express meaning, and many people make use of them to supplement verbal communication, or simply to express themselves silently. For example, a teacher may sternly tell a student to "be quiet" while pointing a finger at them, or a man at a bar may wink at a girl instead of shouting across the room to her.
 
Gestures can be speech-dependent (pointing to something while one is talking about it) or speech-independent (peace sign, wave hello).
 
Two psychologists, Wallace Friesen and Paul Ekman categorized gestures into five sections:
 

Emblems - Time: 1 min.57 Sec.

Illustrators - Time: 1 min.37 Sec.

Conveying Emotion - Time: 1 min.39 Sec.

Regulators - Time: 1 min.40 Sec.

 

Adaptors- Time: 1 min.28 Sec.

 
Gestures can also carry strong spiritual or religious significance, such as making the sign of the cross in christianity, or forming mudras in Hinduism or Buddhism.
  

Touch
 
"Haptic Communication" is a form of nonverbal communication through touch. We communicate through touch on a daily basis, often without noticing it as it is such a natural action. Touch is incredibly useful as a form of communication, as the messages are generally clearly received without confusion.
 
Haptic Communication can be used to express a number of messages. They be affectionate (a kiss), professional (a handshake), congratulatory (high-five), or threatening (a push). There are many opportunities to express oneself through touch, without requiring verbal explanation.
 
Extra caution must be taken when communicating through touch in different cultures, and there are definite boundaries depending upon the cultural norm.
 
Haptic Communication is a large part of nonverbal communication between people, and has the ability to carry immense indications without vocal accompaniement. For example, the difference between a hand on someone elses shoulder and a hand on their thigh is much more easily interpretated than a gesture such as a wink.
 

 
 Further Reading:
 
Maricchiolo, Fridana, Augusto Gnisci, Marino Bonaiuto, and Gianluca Ficca. "Effects of Different Types of Hand Gestures in Persuasive Speech on Receivers' Evaluations." Language and Cognitive Processes 24.2 (2009): 239-66.
 
ISGS: International Society for Gesture Studies - Judith Holler - <http://www.gesturestudies.com/>
 
NPR Spotlights Prof's "Seminal" Research on Communicating Through Touch - < http://www.depauw.edu/news/index.asp?id=18305 >
 
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