Use of Paralanguage and Kinesics in Everyday Life


The use of kinesics and paralanguage in everyday life is the most
prominent use of persuasion we use subconsciously. They are used subconsciously
because you may not know what they mean. Which can cause cultural tension if
you do something that may seem harmless to you but may be a great insult to
another culture. Paralanguage has many forms such as whistling which can be
used by many people as a means of entertaining by whistling a song or even in
American culture used to hound women on the streets because they appear to be
attractive. These two uses of persuasion I will discuss about in my paper. I
will discuss the history of both and also how they are used today in everyday
life.

To start of with I will define kinesics. Kinesics is articulation of
the body, or movement resulting from muscular and skeletal shift. This includes
all actions, physical or physiological, automatic reflexes, posture, facial
expressions, gestures, and other body movements. Body language, body idiom,
gesture language, organ language and kinesic acts are just some terms used to
depict kinesics. In ways that body language works in nonverbal acts, body
language parallels paralanguage. Kinesic acts may substitute for language,
accompany it, or modify it. Kinesic acts may be lexical or informative and
directive in nature, or they may be emotive or empathic movements. Posture is
one of the components of kinesics. Posture is broken down into three basic
positions: bent knees, lying down, and standing. Artists and mimes have always
been aware of the range of communication possible through body stance. But
there are some cultural differences in posture positions. Most people use the
bent knee position to eat, but while the Romans used to eat lying down. Prince
Peter of Greece and Denmark described the sleeping posture of the Tibetans
before World War II. He said that the local men slept outside at night huddled
around the fire, hunched over on their knees with their faces resting in their
palms.

In 1932, William James did a study of expression of bodily posture. He
recognized the relationship of facial expression, gesture, and posture. He
declared that studying each one independently was justified for the purpose of
analysis, but they should be recognized as a whole unit that function as an
expression. He devised four basic kinds from 347 different postures in his
experiment. The four basic kinds are: approach, withdrawal, expansion, and
contraction. Approach referred to such things as attention, interest, scrutiny,
and curiosity. Withdrawal involved drawing back or turning away, refusal,
repulsion, and disgust. Expansion referred to the expanded chest, erect trunk
and head, and raised shoulders, which conveyed pride, conceit, arrogance,
disdain, mastery, and self-esteem. Contraction was characterized by forward
trunk, bowed head, drooping shoulders, and sunken chest. Studies have
identified postural behavior with personality types and ways of life, for
example relaxation, assertiveness, and restraint; and have noted the correlation
of certain kinds of movement in sleeping and waking acts. Posture is a
substantial marker of feminine and masculine behavior. The relationship of
posture to sex gestures is obvious in the stereotypes in U.S. advertising.
Posture is an indicator of status and rank and is also a marker of etiquette.
In a study of Roman sculpture and coinage, Brilliant demonstrates that posture
identifies the noble and the peasant. In Western culture one was taught to
stand when an elderly person enters the room.

The face seems to be the most obvious component of body language, but it
is certainly the most confusing and difficult to understand. Modern studies of
facial expressions dates back to the nineteenth century, starting with Charles
Bell, who in 1806, published Essays on the Anatomy and Philosophy of Expression:
As Connected with the Fine Arts. Charles Darwin\'s, The Expressions of Emotions
in Man and Animals, in 1872, was apparently influenced by Bell\'s earlier work.
Facial expressions are like sentences in human language, they are infinite in
variety. The relationship of facial expression to other components of body
language and to language itself, is sparsely examined and such observations as
have been made are recent. It does not take very extensive scientific study to
observe that a smiling face makes a sentence sound different from a sentence
articulated by a sorrowful, droopy physiognomy. There are five basic physical
descriptions of facial expressions: neutral, relaxed, tense, uplifted, and
droopy. The neutral could result in various expressions such as pleasure, mask,
respect, thoughtful, and quiet attention. The relaxed could result in love,
pleasure and submission. The tense results in fear, surprise, determination,
contempt, and extreme interest. The uplifted could result in happiness, anxiety,
rage,