Thursday, November 29, 2007

#16. Faking Body Language

Body language is probably an interesting topic for most people. We all "apeak" it--usually subconsciously. According to an article title "The Body Language of Love," 55% of what we say is understood through visual components (gestures, postures, facial expressions, etc.). The words we say apparently only account for 7%. Many have probably read something similar elsewhere that body language reveals a lot about what we actually think and feel. For example, when we mimic what someone else's body language, it's an indication that we like that person.
Body language is obviously telling, but is there any way we can manipulate people by faking body language? There is a lot of literature on using and interpreting body language, especially for dating or job interviews. Politicians have to look and act charismatic and confident.
So if you know what your body is saying, then isn't it possible to fake it? I think it is possible to consciously send messages with your body, such as making eye contact and leaning forward when you're interested in someone and you want to indicate that what they're saying is interesting to you. However, if you don't feel a certain way but have to act contrary to your feelings, such as when you're hosting relatives whom you don't particularly like, a lot of people fake smile and fake laugh. But when people fake such body language, is it really undetectable or are their true feelings revealed in their other subconscious body language? A few weeks back, I saw a clip of Fox News's "Body Language" segment on The O'Reilly Factor, where a body language analyst analyzing an interview with Hilary Clinton. The analyst said that her laughter was "evil." She could tell that Clinton wasn't genuinely laughing because she was laughing for too long and only her mouth was laughing and not her face (as far as I recall).
These two factors are actually on a site I found that tells you how to detect lies:
Most of the listed indications of lies are things we normally know but do not pay a lot of attention to. So if we pay attention, can we know when someone is being deceitful? If we are analyzed by a professional body language analyst, can we get away with our fake gestures?
I couldn't find a good answer to this question (most search results turned up how to interpret body language or "improve" body language), but I assume that as with all lies and liars, there are good ones and bad ones. Good liars will be able to deceive other people by faking their body language and bad liars won't. However, because a lot of body language is subconscious, it seems to be much harder to disguise your true feelings.


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