Investigation


My investigation is a case study into the non-verbal communication used by teenagers when they get in trouble with the police. I will be looking at how they use gestures in conversation with police, where they stand during confrontation and whether they keep eye contact.


I did both primary and secondary research for my investigation. The primary research carried out was a questionnaire that I gave to teenagers of different ages and of both sexes so I could gather information for my investigation. Because I am looking at non-verbal communication, I used questions that would enable me to find out how teenagers react non-verbally when confronted by police, for example: if teenagers run or use hand gestures during confrontation. I also wanted to determine whether they became violent, kept eye contact and felt comfortable around police.


From my primary research I found that gestures are a very important part of non-verbal communication as everyone used hand gestures when they were trying to convince the police they were not guilty as believed this would help them explain in detail. I also found that less than half kept eye contact and more than half left a large space between themselves and police during confrontation.


For my secondary research I used a book called “AS Communication Studies: The Essential Introduction” by Andrew Beck, Peter Bennett and Peter Wall. I used this book to find the definitions of types of non-verbal communication. I also used a search engine on the internet called “Google” to help me find some websites with appropriate pictures for my presentation.


The three areas of non-verbal communication that I chose to investigate are proximity, eye contact and gestures.


Proximity is the distance in which people stand from each other. The distance we stand from each other tends to be slightly different depending on our culture, upbringing, age and social class. Intimate relationships allow people to be very close to one another whereas a personal relationship would still be close but not as close as an intimate relationship. I looked at how different teenagers positioned themselves when talking to police through two questions in my questionnaire. “Proxemics is the study of how we handle the space around us, especially in relation to other people.”*


Eye contact is used to send very important messages in relationships. When, how often and for how long we hold eye contact is how we send these messages and show particularly how dominant the relationship is. “Staring somebody out” is a simple challenge of dominance, “making eyes” at somebody indicates a desire for affection. “Eye contact is one important way in which we communicate our feelings towards other people.”**


Gestures are very important in communication. Main transmitters of gestures are performed by the hands and arms, but gestures of the feet and head are also important. They are closely co-ordinated with speech and supplement verbal communication. Emphatic up and down gestures often indicate an attempt to dominate, whereas more fluid, continuous circular gestures indicate a desire to explain or to win sympathy. “Motion of hands or body to emphasize or help to express a thought or feeling.”***





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* AS Communication Studies: The Essential Introduction by Andrew Beck, Peter Bennett and Peter Wall. Published 2002 (page 151).





** AS Communication Studies: The Essential Introduction by Andrew Beck, Peter Bennett and Peter Wall. Published 2002 (page 153)





*** WordNet 2.0 Search. http://www.cogsci.princeton.edu/cgi-bin/webwn?stage=1&word=gesture