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NONVERBAL COMMUNICATION: HOW DO WE COMMUNICATE WITHOUT WORDS?

  • Communication occurs via many parts of the body, from one's gaze to one's posture. Facial expressions are such a primary method of communication that six basic emotions are identifiable by the exact same expressions across cultures. These expressions can be evoked either consciously or automatically.

  • These communications can give an indication of when someone is lying—for example, if one body part suggests one thing is true, but another body part suggests another. Despite the belief that most people are generally honest, people tend to lie at least once per day, though are more likely to do so to strangers than to close friends or family.

  • Lacking nonverbal cues can impede people's abilities to detect deception. That said, verbal cues tend to be effective indicators in real–world situations, though people still generally perform poorly at detecting lies in others.

TO WHAT DO WE ATTRIBUTE PEOPLE'S BEHAVIOURS?

  • Behaviours can be attributed to a person's disposition (traits) or situation. There are both rational processes that go into making these decisions and biased ones. Rational processes include whether or not the action was freely chosen and how distinctive the action is compared to what would be expected in the situation. Biased processes include one's perspective—the fundamental attribution error is when we attribute others' behaviours to their dispositions, but our own to the situation.

  • People in individualistic cultures tend to make dispositional attributions quite automatically—termed spontaneous trait inferences. By contrast, those in collectivist cultures will make attributions equally as automatically and unintentionally, but the inferences they make will be situational. Thus, in all cultures, people have the tendency to immediately determine the cause of a given behaviour—perhaps reflecting an innate need to understand our world.

HOW DO WE DECIDE WHAT OTHER PEOPLE ARE LIKE?

  • The content of information we are provided about a person is not the only thing that impacts our impressions; the centrality of the trait to personality as well as its order of presentation impact the extent to which it influences your impressions. Notably, first impressions are key. The primacy effect suggests that the very first thing to which we are exposed has a lot of weight in our evaluations of a person.

  • The role that we are in can also influence how our behaviours are understood, as can having beauty or a baby–faced quality. Once we form an opinion of someone else, we are loath to change it—so much so that we seek out information that confirms our original beliefs. Moreover, with our own behaviour, we elicit behaviour from others that is consistent with our beliefs.