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Let your hands do the talking

Pointing, gesticulating and other similar examples of body language are regarded in many cultures as rude and ill-mannered. But the results of a new study published in the journal Psychological Science say that using gestures along with words is the best way to get your point ...
Let your hands do the talking
Pointing, gesticulating and other similar examples of body language are regarded in many cultures as rude and ill-mannered. But the results of a new study published in the journal Psychological Science say that using gestures along with words is the best way to get your point across in communications.

A team of researchers from Radboud University in the Netherlands and Colgate University in the US jointly carried out a series of experiments to explore the connections between language and gestures.

Professor Spencer Kelly from the Department of Psychology at Colgate University, along with Drs Asli Özyürek and Eric Maris from Radboud University, led the research. They set up experiments in which participants watched short video clips of people carrying out everyday tasks such as chopping vegetables or washing dishes. These were followed by a one-second video of a word. In some of the trials the actions and words matched, while in others they did not. The participants then had to decide how many of the pairs matched.

The results clearly showed that people understand meanings much faster and more clearly when words match gestures. The participants were able to understand the meaning of a word much more rapidly during the congruent trials (when the two actions matched) than when they did not (as in the incongruent trials). The results were also the same when the participants were told to pay attention only to the word and not the gesture.

The research findings indicate that it is much easier to understand what someone means when their speech clearly matches their body language. The results also indicate that gestures and language form an integrated whole that help us understand each other easily.

'These results have implications for everyday communicative situations, such as in educational contexts (both teachers and students), persuasive messages (political speeches, advertisements), and situations of urgency (such as first aid or cock pit conversations),' the researchers point out.

They also suggest that the best way for speakers to get their message across is to 'coordinate what they say with their words with what they do with their hands'. In other words, the authors conclude, 'If you really want to make your point clear and readily understood, let your words and hands do the talking.'

Source: Psychological Science

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Countries

  • Netherlands, United States
Record Number: 31636 / Last updated on: 2010-01-07
Category: Other
Provider: EC
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