Showing my Nonverbal Side

Concept. 1. Knowledge, facts, or data derived from communication. 2. Answers to questions (i.e., the resolution of uncertainty). 3. As Norbert Wiener (1948, p. 155) observed, information fundamentally differs from matter or energy. The first informational signs precede life, and date back ca. 13.8 billion years to the very beginning of the universe. Specifically, they consist of photons emitted by individual electrons to communicate presence ("I am here") to fellow electrons. Upon receipt of a photon message, a recipient electron would divert its course to avoid collision with the sender. Photon communication may be the primordial model for all subsequent nonverbal communication, from bacterial quorum sensing to the human smile.

Usage: The meaning of a sign, signal, or cue is the information it transmits to receivers. Nonverbal signs convey information about a. our social status (see, e.g., DOMINANCE and SUBMISSION), b. our feelings (see, e.g., ANGER and FEAR), and c. our thoughts (see, e.g., DECEPTION and UNCERTAINTY). Nonverbal information ranges from "low level" signs of physiological arousal (e.g. facial flushing) to "high level" signs for conceptual thought (e.g., mime cues).

RESEARCH REPORTS: 1. "Information is a name for the content of what is exchanged with the outer world as we adjust to it, and make our adjustment felt upon it" (Wiener 1950, pp. 26-7). 2. A faculty for the communication of information pervades all life (Young 1978).

Neuro-notes. Nonverbal information flows in two directions simultaneously, as our nervous system sends efferent (i.e., outgoing) and receives afferent (i.e., incoming) cues.

Copyright 1998 - 2017. (David B. Givens/Center for Nonverbal Studies)