What Do Nail Biting & Hair Twirling Reveal?
I am currently writing my dissertation on the stigma surrounding nail biting and hair twirling, I was wondering if possible could you provide me with any information these aspects of body language reveal about the individual?
Nail biting and hair twirling are two quite explicit forms of body language. Both nail biting and hair twirling can be either conscious or subconscious body language gestures, each revealing some interesting aspects of the character, emotion and inner workings of the individual.
Nail BitingNail biting is a non-verbal gesture. In adults it is often a habit that is adopted and carried through from childhood and can become apparent in stressful situations throughout adulthood. To most people, nail biting is associated with nervousness and shyness and is an involuntary response to certain social situations. In many cases, it is an adaptor behaviour that channels nervous energy, inactivity or boredom and does not interfere with normal functioning, the only effect being cosmetic. In severe cases nail biting can become a repetitive behaviour that is intentionally performed. It can result in substantial physical damage.
So when we look deeper, in both adults and children, it has been suggested that severe nail biting is often referred to as a method of ‘self-beating’. This indicates that nail biting is a subconscious behaviour signifying increased anxiety and low self-esteem in the perpetrator. In fact, some have gone as far as to suggest that extensive, frequent nail biting in children can even serve as a cue indicating that child has suffered some level of abuse. However, it’s worth noting that this is not necessarily the view of all psychologists.
Playing With HairPlaying, twirling, fiddling and hair pulling can be indicative with a number of emotions and behaviours. For instance, children that bite their nails and frequently pull or play with their hair may be nervous or have low self-esteem. Hair twirling may be a comforting action for a child who is tense and anxious, and may become habitual later in life in stressful situations. Routine and severe hair pulling (trichotillomania) can be a compulsive disorder that may be linked to genetics, anxiety, depression and obsessive compulsive disorder. It is most commonly thought to be a stress-related condition.
However, fiddling with hair is also another non-verbal body language that can signify different things in different situations. For example, hair twirling can signify interest and desire. Women in particular are noted for hair twirling when talking to someone that they’re attracted to. It is regarded as flirtatious and preening behaviour, perhaps inviting or inciting the other party to touch their hair. But in other situations, as above, hair twirling can signify anxiety, incompetence, uncertainty or shyness. Why not find out more about how to read body language here?