Nonverbal Communication of
Emotion
How can we tell what someone is
feeling without a direct verbal
expression (i.e., “I’m mad”)?
Nonverbal Emotions
What are some ways that we convey our
emotions without actually having to explicitly
state them?
• Facial Expressions
• Body Language
• Voice Quality
• Personal Space
• Explicit Acts
• Emblems/Gestures
Facial Expressions
• Most obvious emotional indicators
• Many facial expressions are innate (not
learned)
– evolutionary and adaptive- our ancestors used
them to defend themselves, win mates, and
compete for status (Ekman, 1992; Tooby & Cosmides, 1990)
Facial Expressions
• Facial Expressions and Genuine Smiles
• BBC Online- Spot the Fake Smile
Body Language
• Second most useful form of nonverbal communication
• We can tell how someone is feeling by the way they
hold themselves
– Relaxed state- stretching back in a chair
– Tense state- stiff and upright
• Why is this helpful??
– College interviews, walking off of the bus for a sporting
event, drama club production*
•
*Beier videotaped subjects acting out emotions- most could only “act” 2 out of 6
emotions (Anger, fear, seductiveness, indifference, happiness, sadness)
Body Language Exercise
Voice Quality
Consider the following scenario:
Jay walks into the kitchen and his mother is
unloading the dishwasher. Rather than helping,
he sits down and starts snacking on Cheetos and
checking facebook.
Jay’s Mom: I hope you are enjoying those Cheetos,
Jay.
Jay’s Mom’s words do not express how she is
feeling. How might her tone?
Voice Quality
• We know from the tone of one’s voice, as well
as the expression behind it, how a person
feels.
• Many times, we do not need hear or express
directly with words how or what we or
someone else is feeling.
• Other examples??
Role play!!!
• Round 1: How do we stand next to people
who are our friends? Those who are not?
• Round 2: How does our personal space change
when we are scared? Angry?
Personal Space
• Defined as the distance people maintain
between themselves
• Varies between nature of activity and emotion
felt
– closer = anger or affection
– farther= fear or dislike
• Normal conversing distance between people
varies from culture to culture
• Invasion of personal space = DISCOMFORT!
Explicit Acts
• Outward expression of emotion
– Examples: slamming a door, punching a wall, kicking a
chair, slapping high five, etc.
– Are sometimes tricky
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Sometimes we demonstrate the “wrong” behavior
Laughing and crying often look similar
Crying can signify happiness or sadness
Lying can fool many of us!!
– In a study of several hundred “lie catchers” (government officials,
Secret Service members, judges, psychiatrists, lie detector
experts), only Secret Service performed at a rate that was “better
than chance”
– “Lie to Me”
– Masking, Neutralizing, Intensification,
Deintensification
Emblem
• Fancy name for a type of “gesture” used as
replacement for words
– Examples: Wink, Nod, Hand-wave, “O.K.” hand
gesture
• Culture-specific
– An emblem that is common in one place may be
highly offensive in another
• Be careful of replacing gestures with words
– Examples?
Emblems/Gestures Exercise
Display Rules
• Circumstances under which it is appropriate for people to
show emotion
– differ greatly from culture to culture
• Experiment: Japanese and American college students were
shown videos
– Round One: Students were alone in the room and displayed
similar emotions (disgust)
– Round Two: Students were in a room with an experimenter.
When with the experimenter, Japanese faces were more neutral
or pleasant, while Americans continued to display disgust
• It is a “display rule” among the Japanese to avoid displaying
strong negative emotion in the presence of a respected
elder. (Ekman, Friesen, and Ellsworth, 1972)
Empathy vs. Sympathy
• Sympathy- To recognize someone else’s
emotions and appreciate them.
• Empathy- To recognize someone else’s
emotion, as well as to identify with the
emotion another is experiencing, as if to also
take on that emotion.
• Examples??
Summary
• What are the most effective nonverbal cues?
• Are all emotional expressions universal?
• Can you hypothesize what is going on in the
following picture:
Gender and Emotion
• Ladies ~ Do you ever feel like a guy doesn’t
“understand” how you feel and you don’t “get” how
they can “shut off” their emotions?
• Gentlemen ~ Have you ever experienced an instance
when a girl is way too emotional for you?
• Are girls really more emotional than guys? (the
question that plagues every relationship)
Gender and Emotion
• Common observation: Men display different
emotions than woman
– Science or Stereotype?
• Eisenberg and Lennon, 1983
– When exposed to people in distress, women
expressed more feelings of concern. However,
physiological responses were the same.
– Conclusion: Men inhibited their emotion.
Gender and Emotion
• O’Leary and Smith, 1988
– Boys are trained to suppress “unmanly” emotions,
such as sympathy, sadness, empathy, and distress,
at a young age
– Perhaps this is why females sometimes don’t get
the response they are looking for when seeking
for comfort in their partners
Gender and Emotion
• Females have stronger emotional reactions
when they self-generate a thought
– Ex: Think of your dog running away.
– The emotional centers of the brain are more
activated in females than males in these
hypothetical situations
– Ladies: Stop thinking too much! 
Gender and Emotion
• Reactions to a hypothetical situation of being
double-crossed
– Women – betrayed and hurt (“how could you do
this to me??”)
– Men- anger (“watch your back”)
– Men often outwardly express emotions
• 4x as likely to be violent
– Women often look inward
• More likely to be depressed
Gender and Emotion
• Holding anger in is extremely unhealthy
– People who feel more hostile were three times
more likely to die during study than those who
were not (Julius, et. Al. 1986)
• Venting and experiencing bouts of anger
appropriately is essential to our survival!
• Healthy ways to express anger??
Gender and Emotion
• Males and females differ in the way they interpret
nonverbal cues of emotion
– Women can decode facial expressions, body cues, and
tones of voices more efficiently
– Evolutionary and/or a result of child rearing (practice)
– People are more sensitive to the emotions of their
“leaders”
• Historically, men have been more “powerful”
– Women hold emotionally laborious occupations
Culture and Emotion
• Many cultures share similar emotional
reactions
– Death = sadness; Attack = fear
• Many emotions depend the culture
– Cultures that emphasize the “individual”- you are
more likely to feel “proud”
– Cultures that emphasize the “collective”- you may
not feel as “proud” (say, of a job promotion)
Culture and Emotion
• The English language has endless words for
self-focused emotions (multiple words for one
emotion!)
– Angry, mad, infuriated
– Sad, upset, hurt
• The Japanese language has more words for
“other-focused” emotions
– i.e. words for empathy and sympathy
Culture and Emotion
• Matsumoto, et al 1988
– American college students experienced emotions
that lasted longer than Japanese students
– Collectivist cultures put an emphasis on emotions
that help the “flow” of society as a whole
– Stop dwelling because you’re not doing anyone
any good!
Culture and Emotion
• Ekman and facial expressions
– Happiness, anger, surprise, sadness, anger, fear,
disgust
– Are universal across cultures
Culture and Emotion
• Once again, display rules come into effect
when expressing emotions
– Masking, Neutralizing, Deintensification,
Intensification
• Members of different cultures follow different
rules for when it is appropriate to express
emotion
– When is it okay to show that you are mad?
Disgusted? Angry?
 Etre et Avoir clip (1:11)
Review
• Format:
– 15 Multiple Choice
– 4 Matching
– 1 Short Answer
– 1 Essay
• Use Chapter 9 terms sheet for review
– Questions/Comments??
• Monday- JEOPARDY