Information Theory, The Process of Inquiry and Non-Verbal

Read: Griffin Chapter 4

The process of inquiry:

Inquiry involves the systematic, disciplined ordering of experience that leads to the development of understanding and knowledge. The process of asking interesting, significant questions ..and providing disciplined, systematic answers to them. RESE ARCH METHODS. Conceptualization (define, describe, explain, make judgments) Observation and Instrumentation.

Scientific scholarship is often associated with objectivity. Replications of the same observed results will yield identical results. Standardized observations

Humanistic scholarship is often associated with subjectivity. Individualized observations.





EXERCISE: Folding one's arms is considered to be a discovered action. There are no significant differences from one culture to another as to how individuals cross their arms. But there are differences between persons. We discover the action rather than learn it from others. Once one has arrived at a way of crossing the arms, it becomes very natural, and it is only with some difficulty and conscious attention that it can be done another way.

Non-Verbal Communication is the study of communication systems that do not involve words.

We live not only in a world of words but in a world of silent messages. Everyday we accompany our talk with the languages of gesture and posture, space and time.

Even when we are silent, invisible messages crowd our senses: color excites us, sounds calm us, the smell or look of another human being attracts or repels us.

To communicate fully, we must learn to speak these unspoken languages.

Codes that make up the nonverbal system:

Body Movement


Facial Display

Eye contact

Vocal Characteristics




Physical appearance

Use of artifacts

One of the problems defining non-verbal communication is deciding what counts as non verbal and what does not. Because all human behavior has the potential to create meaning, is ALL behavior communication? This question is more than academic; it has re al life implications:



Jane waiting for Tom. Swings her legs back and forth while sitting on a table. Playing with her keys. Tapping the table with her fingers.

Signaling impatient behavior because Tom is late

Same behavior could be expressed out of boredom.

Non-verbal communication may be unintentional. However, even unintended messages have powerful effects.


Characteristics of Non-Verbal Communication:

The non-verbal communication system is made up of a number of separate codes. To be successful communicators, we should be aware of how each of these codes work.

Non-verbal communication is Immediate, Continuous and Natural. Non-verbals are physical extensions of our bodies. They are immediate. We can wait for the right time to speak, but we can't delay non-verbal communication. Therefore we cannot NOT COMM UNICATE!

Context is important. A raised arm can be a greeting sign, a physical attack, or wanting to ask a question in class.

Initial Judgements: It is important and sometimes even vital, to know the characteristics, attitudes and attentions of others. In the early stages of acquaintance, we often turn to non-verbal channels.

Initial Judgements are used to size up other people.



Cultural Identity



Individual style

Relational Information:

Liking is indicated through facial expression, eye contact, proximity.

Status is often conveyed through posture, gesture, touch and proximity as well as the objects we display.

Responsiveness is the degree we are pyschologically involved in an interaction and is shown by cues such as rate and volume of speech, amount of gesture, and variability of facial display.

Exercise: Example of Emotional Expression

Film clip from THE NEGOTIATOR 59:00-102:06

Non-Verbal Codes and Verbal Messages: Non-verbal cues expand and clarify verbal messages. Non-verbal experts such as Paul Ekman and Mark Knapp have catalogued some of the ways non verbal messages are used in conjunction with verbal messages.


Trenholm, Sarah (1999). Thinking Through Communication. Allyn and Bacon. p.120

EXERCISE: Computer Mediated Communication Non-Verbal on the Internet




Trenholm, Sarah (1999). Thinking Through Communication. Allyn and Bacon. Pp.113-143.

Desmond Morris., (19770. .Manwatching. New York: Abrams.

Ekman, Paul. (1972). Emotion in the Human Face "Guidelines for Research and Integrational Findings". New York; Pergamon Press

Mehrabian, Albert.(1976). Public Places and Private Places. "The Psychology of Work, Play and Living Environments New York: Basic Books.