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Understanding Kinesis

Understanding Kinesis

More feelings, intentions, and emotions are communicated in nonverbal ways than in all verbal ways put together.
-Your Silent Language (Elizabeth McGough)

The study of body language isn't new, but it wasn't until 1952 that it acquired a name. That was the year that a professor at the Eastern Pennsylvania Psychiatric Institute published a book called Introduction to Kinesis. Ray Birdwhistell defined kinesis as the "systematic study of how human beings communicate through body movement and gesture". He postulated that human beings all over the world communicate with each other through similar gestures and movements despite differences in culture and meaning. His book was the beginning of serious study of body language as a legitimate scientific form. In the three decades that followed, numerous books were written about nonverbal communication, but most focused on the way that animals communicate with each other. They were written for other scientists, not laymen - at least until Desmond Morris came along. With books like The Naked Ape, Morris brought the concept of body language and kinesis came to the attention of the general public.

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