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The Psychology of Body Language

By: Jack Claridge - Updated: 15 Oct 2012 | comments*Discuss
Body Language Psychology Psychologists

Body language is a voluntary – and sometimes involuntary movement – of a part of the body in relation to an emotion, a thought or a sense. Sometimes these movements can provide us with valuable information as to what an individual is thinking or feeling and sometimes these movements can be nothing more than an involuntary spasm, a physical reaction to stress or emotional strain.

Psychology and Body Language

For many years psychologists have looked at body language in relation to how the human mind works and have sought to make connections between physical movement and emotional processes. These connections can tell us a great deal about someone’s emotional state as well as how they are thinking or feeling. They can even tell us if an individual is lying or not.

Conscious Body Language

We do things with our eyes, our mouths, our hands and our bodies in general if we want to achieve certain ends. This can be anything from letting a member of the opposite sex know we like them right through to making it plain to a member of the opposite sex that we do not want to speak with them. Conscious body language can say as much in movement as the mouth can in words.

A hand gesture, an eye signal, a flick of the hair, all of these things equate to signals – wordless motions – that will give important information to those around us without speaking.

Unconscious Body Language

Again unconscious body language can give a lot of information about how a person is feeling or what they are thinking, without actually saying a word. The problem with unconscious body language is that it can sometimes reveal things that we – as individuals – do not want revealed. For example if we are nervous about something we might absentmindedly bite our fingernails or continually rub our eyes. We might drum our fingers on a desk or fidget uncomfortably in our chairs, the list is endless for the physical movements but there are a limited number of emotional corresponders.

This is where psychology comes into its own.

A trained and experienced psychologist can – and should – be able to read these signs and connect them to the emotions being felt by the individual at the time.

Psychological Profiling

Body language and Psychology are never more interlinked than when used in the profiling of an individual who may be accused of a crime. It is true that some individuals are very good at telling lies, indeed some – but only a small percentage – can fool a Polygraph Machine (Lie Detector) but they can and often do find it much harder to fool an individual who is making notes on their answers and corresponding physical movements.

Again it is important to add that this is not necessarily always correct, some people do act adversely when under stress and therefore their body movements can become exaggerated or more frequent, but for the most part the two combine to give a reasonably accurate picture of how the human mind works in conjunction with the body.

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Hi Carl - thanks that comment has been removed now.
BodyLanguageExpert - 12-Jan-12 @ 2:15 PM
Thank you very much. Very nice page.
CarlRobinson11 - 12-Jan-12 @ 2:14 PM
Despite those crass comments, I found this page very useful. I thought it was nice and helpful. Thanks!
CarlRobinson11 - 12-Jan-12 @ 1:19 PM
Good read that write up. It's something I find I can do naturally with most people to be able to tell what they are thinking and read some of their body language. It's like a sixth sense and something I would love to study but don't have the time or funding
the 7th angel - 28-May-11 @ 4:23 AM
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