Body Language

Body Language is jam packed with interesting science. In this comprehensive introduction we’ll show you the basics of body language, how to read other’s body language, and how to improve your own.

What is Body Language?

When we talk about body language we look at the subtle cues we send and receive to each other nonverbally. Many people want to know how to read body language. To get started, body language can be broken down into a few different channels:

Facial Expressions: Researcher Dr. Paul Ekman discovered 7 universal microexpressions — or short facial gestures every human makes when they feel an intense emotion. We are very drawn to looking at and observing the face to understand someone’s hidden emotions. They are an essential part of body language.

Body Proxemics: Proxemics is a term for how our body moves in space. We are constantly looking at how someone is moving — are they gesturing? Leaning? Moving towards or away from us? Body movements tell us a lot about preferences and nervousness. They are instrumental body language cues.

Ornaments: Clothes, jewelry, sunglasses, hairstyles, are all extensions of our body language. Not only do certain colors and styles send signals to others, how we interact with our ornaments is also telling. Is someone a fidgeter with their watch or ring? Do they constantly self-preen or touch their hair? These are all body language cues.

Body Language Principles

How To Read People’s Body Language

There are actually two sides to reading body language in others.

Decoding is your ability to read people’s cues. It is how you interpret hidden emotions, information and personality from someone’s nonverbal.

Encoding is your ability to send cues to other people. This is how you control your personal branding, what first impressionyou give and how you make people feel when they are with you.

How good are your body language decoding and encoding skills. Take our free quiz right now to find out!

Male vs Female Body Language

Ever wondered what the difference is between male body language and female body language? I love talking about the natural differences and this can help you decode certain nonverbal cues as well.

Power Body Language

We all know someone who has a natural magnetism. Someone who walks into a room and people look. Someone who speaks and people listen. Someone who was born to lead. Or maybe that someone is you?

Alphas have a very specific set of nonverbal behaviors that signify to others in the group and to the outside world that they are the top dog.

Body Language That Shows If They Like You

To understand modern day nonverbal signals of attraction it is helpful to look at the history of where our body language comes from. Our caveman ancestors used the same body language we use today. Here are the messages we are trying to send with our body language to potential mates, and what is seen as attractive.

Aggressive Body Language

Whether you’re dealing with a drunken bar mate, playing an intense sport or dating a stranger, you have to know how to recognize nonverbal behavior of aggression.

Further Reading

Tips for Identifying a Shoplifter

Shoplifting is much more common than you would think. You may believe few people are bold enough to walk into a well-lit, employee-monitored store, but that is not the case. In fact, shoplifting has become more common than ever. Check out our video on The...

4 Steps to Identify and Avoid Pickpockets

Did you know that more than 400,000 pickpocketing incidents occur worldwide every day? It’s likely this number is even higher because many people, as well as police officers, assume items stolen from pockets and bags were lost, not stolen, since...

The Science of the Perfect Handshake

A handshake can make or break a first impression. So, we have to get it right. The problem is these days many people have switched to alternative greetings, such as waves, fist pumps, and friendly nods. Yet, aside from being the expected way of greeting...

Why We Love to Hate Certain Celebrities

Why do certain actors rub us wrong while other celebs steal our love? Hating Anne Hathaway has become a national pastime. But no one can get enough of Jennifer Lawrence. Ben Affleck was selected as one of the most hated celebrities of 2016,...

Are You a Truth Wizard?

Research estimates that we are lied to as many as two hundred times per day. That means you are told lies in the majority of interactions you have with people. When I first read this statistic I was shocked; I thought that I surrounded myself...

The Science of the Resting Bitch Face and How to Prevent It

Do you ever get asked questions like these on days you feel perfectly okay: Are you angry? Is something wrong? Did I say something to offend you? Why don’t you smile more? If so, and you’ve probably already realized it, you have a resting bitch face. The resting bitch...

9 Things You Should Know About Liars

You are lied to dozens of times every day. They range from little white lies, such as people telling you they are doing great when in fact they are having a terrible day, to serious lies from loved ones and employers that have the potential to change your...

How to Know if Someone is Going to Give You a Handshake or a Hug

You know that awkward moment where someone is coming to greet you and you have no idea if they are going for the handshake or the hug? So you’re left kind of putting your hand out but also not sure if you should open your arms for the hug or you just wait for them to...

How to Make Accurate Snap Judgements

When I was doing research for my book Captivate, I wanted to discover why and how people make strong judgements about strangers they’ve just met. Everyone knows that first impressions are important part of this. The question is, how accurate...

3 Ways to Instantly Tell When Someone is Attracted to You

“How do I know if someone is attracted to me?” I get asked this question all the time and I get it, wondering if someone is interested in you can be super nerve-wracking. Whether or not the attraction is mutual, being uncertain about what type of...

What is Contempt? Learn Where It Comes From and How to Spot It

Contempt is the most underestimated feeling. It’s one of the seven basic emotions that every human experiences on a regular basis yet, unlike the others including happiness and anger, we rarely talk about it. Think about it, when was the last time you had...

5 Red Flags to Know if Someone is Lying to You in an Email

In an age where technology is rapidly shaping the online world and how we communicate, and for many businesses that work exclusively through the virtual world, it is easy to wonder if the person on the other end of that text message or email is...

What Tony the Tiger Can Teach Us About Power

Okay, so I must confess something to you. I am addicted to cereal. I truly wish it was one of our basic food groups. Just picturing Honey Bunches of Oats, Mini Wheats, Fruit Loops, Raisin Bran… oh only if there was a cereal for every mood, I...

How to Look Younger in Pictures

This article is part of Science of People's "Optimizing Your Photos" Series. Other articles in this series you might like: How to Look Thinner in Pictures How to Look Older in Pictures How to Look Younger in Pictures How to Look Taller in Pictures Do you ever look at...

How to Look Older in Pictures

This article is part of Science of People's "Optimizing Your Photos" Series. Other articles in this series you might like: How to Look Thinner in Pictures How to Look Older in Pictures How to Look Younger in Pictures How to Look Taller in Pictures Being...

What Makes A Face Attractive?

Science never ceases to surprise me. But, in this segment of ‘Did You Know?’ we just might surprise you! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9qph9XUYaOo Did you know that the more symmetrical your face is, the more attractive you seem to others? Yes,...

How to Look Taller in Pictures

This article is part of Science of People's "Optimizing Your Photos" Series. Other articles in this series you might like: How to Look Thinner in Pictures How to Look Older in Pictures How to Look Younger in Pictures How to Look Taller in Pictures...

The First Impression Cue Men and Women Find Most Attractive

Picking out the perfect profile picture is hard. You have to find one where you're feeling pretty dang attractive--the perfect angle, the perfect lighting, the perfect smile. And while most of us choose a photo of ourselves sporting a big grin,...

The Science Behind an Average Looking Face

"Hey, don't I know you from somewhere? I swear we've met before." "Oh wow, you look just like someone I know! Your face is so familiar..." Do you get this all the time? It sounds like you may have an average looking face. But, fear not! As...

How to Look Thinner in Pictures

This article is part of Science of People's "Optimizing Your Photos" Series. Other articles in this series you might like: How to Look Thinner in Pictures How to Look Older in Pictures How to Look Younger in Pictures How to Look Taller in Pictures Taking...

The Power of Body Language to Combat Depression

You may be wondering how in the world body language helps heal the heaviness of depression. Well I'm here to tell you how, why, and what to do to help someone you know or perhaps yourself who may be going through depression, anxiety, or a...

How to Know If Someone Likes You

Do you know how to know if someone likes you? Do you have someone in your life that is potentially giving you signals that they want go from friend to romantic partner? If so, keep that person in mind as we go through each of the 5 cues of attraction. Cue #1 Mirroring...

Take the Body Language Quiz

At Science of People we’re working on collecting the largest data set on body language skills and nonverbal communication.

Take this 5 minute quiz and see how your body language ranks!

Take Your Body Language To the Next Level

Science of People can help you take your passion for body language to a new level. Check out our professional training options.