Nonverbal Cues

Once I'm done with kindergarten, I'm going to find me a wife. --Tom (age 5)

Vivian put the moves on Victor. He resisted her at first, then warmed to her advances. By the time Kate resurfaced the next year on a fishing boat, Victor and Viv were in love. --Days of Our Lives (Soap Opera Digest synopsis, May 2, 2000, p. 48)

Nonverbal negotiation. To send and receive messages in an attempt to seek someone's favor or love.

Usage: In all cultures, human beings attain the closeness of sexual intimacy through courtship, a slow negotiation, based on exchanges of nonverbal cues and words. All vertebrates from reptiles to primates reproduce through mating--via internal fertilization of the female's body. Through its five phases (see LOVE SIGNAL), courtship is the means by which two people close the physical gap and emotional distance between them to become a loving pair.

Prehistory. The word court traces to the ancient, Indo-European root, gher-, "to grasp, enclose."

Reproductive force. Courtship is in service to what I call the "reproductive force." The reproductive force is the fifth fundamental force of nature, after the strong, weak, electromagnetic, and gravitational forces. The reproductive force appeared 3.7 billion years ago with RNA and the origin of life on Earth. For additional information, please see "On the Origin of Information" (section 6. LIFE; Givens 2018). To view the article, please click HERE.

See also RAPPORT.


Nonverbal genesis. 1. The fifth fundamental force of nature, after the strong, weak, electromagnetic and gravitational forces of physics. 2. The reproductive force appeared ca. 3.7 billion years ago with RNA and later DNA, in the origin of life on Earth.

Usage. A significant portion of human nonverbal communication was, and continues to be, in service to the reproductive force.

Reproduction. RNA and DNA molecules encode information (via codons) about how to reproduce themselves. Selfishly enforced, guided and shaped by primordial messaging molecules, self-replication became the prime directive, the summum bonum or "greatest good," of life and living, pursued for its own sake and solely on its own behalf. The reproductive force remains a potent motivator in humans today, in their overall demeanor, goals, clothing, automobiles, music, media, art, religion, hairdos, shoes, prom dresses and diverse additional nonverbal signs, signals and cues.

Prom dresses. In service to the reproductive force, clothing cues encoded in American prom dresses evolved in the early 20th Century to broadcast information about physical presence ("I am here"), gender ("I am female") and reproductive fitness for purposes of courtship. Worldwide, the reproductive force is celebrated in diverse coming-of-age ceremonies as teenagers reach reproductive age. Japanese women may put on kimonos, young women from Ghana may wear colorful beads and body paint and Tamil women from Sri Lanka may display with heavy makeup, eye-catching jewelry and saris.

Cells. Living RNA and DNA molecules are environmentally fragile. Early on, life found a way to compartmentalize itself protectively in cells. Before RNA, the chemical structure of water (H20), and of fatty-acid particles and their electromagnetically attracting forces combined to form membranous proto-cells.

Magic bubbles. Bubbles form between gasses and liquids due to the electromagnetic forces of particle adhesion and cohesion. Biofilms are adhesive conglomerates of microorganism particles within a slimy, extracellular matrix. Composed of lipid bilayers, cell membranes surround and contain the contents of cells, and mediate the chemical information they send and receive from other cells and the outer world.

Hosts. Over billions of years, cells combined to form living organisms, from bacteria to human beings. Living plants and animals serve as hosts for the DNA they contain, and strive imperatively to pass this DNA forward in time to successive hosts. While hosts eventually wear out and need to be replaced, the genetic information they pass ahead is arguably immortal.

Messaging molecules. On a micro level, the reproductive force expresses itself nonverbally, within and between body cells, through diverse messaging molecules. Recently discovered in mice, limbic-system AB (Aromatase Bed nucleus of stria terminalis) neurons play a role in species recognition and sexual behavior (Bayless et al. 2019 []; see AROMA CUE, EMOTION). Some have likened this incredibly complex cellular communication to language. From the macro view, reproductive force infuses the body language, voice tones and spatial behaviors that hosts use in service to courtship.



Bayless, Daniel W., Taehong Yang, Matthew M. Mason, Albert A. T. Susanto, Alexandra Lobdell and Nirao M. Shaw (2019). "Limbic Neurons Shape Sex Recognition and Social Behavior in Sexually Naive Males." In Cell (Vol. 176, February 21), pp. 1190-1205.

Copyright 1999 - 2021 (David B. Givens/Center for Nonverbal Studies)