Usage: In courtship's second stage, men and women seek nonverbal
responses to signs beamed out during the earlier attention phase (see
LOVE SIGNALS I). E.g., a man's bid for attention ("I am
here!"--"I am male!") is followed by efforts to determine, "Do you see
me?" Recognition cues thus provide information about having been seen. They are the
afferent (incoming) body signals received in response
to the efferent (outgoing) cues already sent.
Body response. Positive recognition signs include a. body alignment (e.g., aiming or squaring the upper body with a partner), b. rapid eye-blink, c. facial flushing (N.B.: blush applied to a woman's cheeks simulates the red, rosy glow of sexual attraction as well), d. gaze-crossing (i.e., sweeping the eyes back and forth across a partner's view field--without actually looking or seeming to notice his or her presence--to test a willingness to be looked at), e. submissive gaze-down, f. head-toss, g. isopraxism (e.g., mirroring, postural echo, synchrony), h. anxious self-touching, i. shoulder-shrugging, j. smiling, and k. nervous yawning. Negative recognition cues include a. cut-off (i.e., sideward gaze-aversion or angling the upper body away ["cold shoulder"], and b. no reaction (i.e., the most cutting cue of all: no response [see BLANK FACE]).
Responsive eyes. As primates, we respond to changes in gaze direction, and in courtship, concern with eyes and eye contact is extreme. At a singles bar, e.g., eyes dart about and make rapid saccadic movements as they bounce from face to face in the crowd. Even a fleeting glance may suffice to answer the question: "I am female!" . . . Did you notice?.
Responsive pupils. One of our tiniest cues, pupil size, is measured with a pupillometer. The device detects dilation when we view attractive men and women, but constriction when we view threatening or disliked people. Studies show that, while pupil size itself is out of awareness, dilation can be a tell-tale recognition cue (Hess 1975). (N.B.: That enlarged pupils unconsciously telegraph sexual interest was appreciated by European women, who once dilated their eyes artificially with belladonna, a cosmetic extract of the nightshade family.)
RESEARCH REPORTS: 1. A
study summarizing research on North American college students found
a. that women and men aligned upper bodies midway
between direct (i.e., frontal) and indirect (i.e., turned 90 degrees away) with
liked partners; and b. that women assumed open arm
positions with men they liked and crossed arms with disliked men
(men did not show these signs; Vrugt and Kerkstra 1984). 2.
"The next stage is recognition [Givens 1978], or what Scheflen (1965)
calls courtship readiness. If the response of one party . . . is a
stare, blank face, negative facial expression, or orienting away, that ends it"
(Burgoon et al. 1989:325).
Copyright 1998 - 2016 (David B. Givens/Center for Nonverbal Studies)
Love Signals, by David Givens