How Gender is "Perceived" in Non-Verbal Communication
Student Name Here
November 10, 2006
Pop Culture Versus Research:
How Gender is Perceived in Non-Verbal Communication
When selecting a topic for my research paper I started with the idea of exploring the differences in body language used by the different genders. I changed my focus after I read the information presented by two mainstream magazines targeted specifically for women and men. To obtain a woman's perspective I chose an article from Cosmopolitan magazine titled "6 Body-Language Mistakes All Couples Make". For a masculine view I chose an article from Men's Health titled "10 Subtle Signs of What She's Thinking and Feeling". The way in which the information was presented in the two magazines struck me as significant as to how gender is stereotyped by the media and acts as reinforcement in a person's gender identification. I found it personally interesting how the article from Cosmopolitan was four pages long, well documented with excerpts from academic publications, and presented the differences between male and female nonverbal body language as it pertained to relationships. The article in the Men's Health article was very short and succinct and focused on how to read a woman's body language to know if she was interested in having sex. The difference in these two articles only reinforced the stereotypical views of men and women as viewed by our society.
I think it would be safe for me to state that society views women as being more perceptive when it comes to communication in general and more adept to nonverbal cues in the communication process. In the article published in Cosmopolitan by Stephanie Booth she begins by stating that although much of the information expressed in a relationship is nonverbal, men and women express themselves differently, and learning to interpret these signals correctly can greatly improve your relationship. (2006, pg. 124) What struck me as significant about Ms. Booth's article was the fact she researched the topic extensively. She sites work from three separate communications experts with certified credentials in the field of communications. The first is Audrey Nelson, PhD, author of You Don't Say. The second author is Kevin Hogan, PsyD, and coauthor of the book Irresistible Attraction: Secrets of Personal Magnetism. Lastly, she quotes from the book The Complete Idiot's Guide to Body Language, written by relational communications professor Peter A. Anderson, PhD, San Diego State University. Ms. Booth's article was extremely well written and delved into the aspects of making a relationship work through learning how to communicate more effectively. Although the article is written from a woman's perspective, as well as being published in a woman's magazine, I found the article to be beneficial to either gender.
The article explains in detail how to interpret facial expressions, body position and posture, the key to touching, and how misinterpreting body language compared to the verbal message causes problems, as all being key aspects of the communication process. Ms. Booth gives examples of both male and female behaviors and common misinterpretations. One thought I found intriguing, and I wish my wife would learn to understand, is when the author states on pages 126 and 127 that a misconception common to women is the way they interpret the following:
"His posture is slumped over, so clearly something's wrong. And because he's
not talking, he must be hoping you'll coax it out of him. Digging to find out
what's eating someone shows that you care, so it's understandable that you'd
have the urge to conduct a round of 20 questions…" "But when your guy, on
the other hand, shows this same shut-off body language, he's not inviting you
to poke and prod. Rather, it's a way for him to say, "I'm…