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Facial Kinesics, Oculesics, and Kinesics Essay

1. Discuss how emotions are expressed through facial expressions. Emotion is one of the most controversial topics in psychology, a source of intense discussion and disagreement from the earliest philosophers and other thinkers to the present day. Most psychologists can probably agree on a description of emotion or what phenomena to include in a discussion of emotion. The list of these parts of emotion is called the components of emotion. These components are distinguished based on physiological or psychological factors and include emotion faces, emotion elicitors, and emotion neural processes. Neither emotion nor their expressions are concepts universally embraced by psychologists. The term expression implies the existence of something that is expressed. The behaviors referenced by expression are part of an organized emotional response, and thus, the term expression captures the behaviors’ role less adequately than a reference to it as an aspect of the emotion reaction.

In addition, facial expressions have primarily a communicative function and convey something about intentions or internal state, and I find the connotation of the word expression useful. Facial expressions and emotions are directly linked to each other. Many times, we subconsciously exhibit looks and expressions on our faces that are directly linked to how we are feeling at the time. Though people regularly recognize many distinct emotions, for the most part, research studies have been limited to six basic categories and they are happiness, surprise, sadness, anger, fear, and disgust. The reason for this is grounded in the assumption that only these six categories are differentially represented by our cognitive and social systems. (Knapp, Hall & Horgan, 2014, p.261)

2. Discuss pupil dilation and constriction.

Early research determined that pupil dilation and interest in the stimulus are linked. Researchers currently utilize video-based eye-tracking tools that measure where people are looking, how long they are looking at something, and how their pupils respond to what they are looking at and doing. People’s pupils can dilate and constrict, and these eye movements signal their interest level, attitudes, memory, decision-making processes, as well as various disorders. When people are intrigued by or interested in something, they tend to look harder and focus deeper in on that particular thing. There has been so much more additional research on this topic, and many different results and ideas have been added to the causes and reasoning behind pupil dilation and constriction. Our pupils may dilate or constrict based on our attitudes. Pupils dilate for positive attitudes and constrict for negative ones. This can even include times when we receive compliments or praise for doing a good job. Our pupils dilate for excitement and things that feel good to us.

Another study found that recognition and memory were also linked to the change in pupil size. If people saw or recognized something they have seen before, or something that brings back a fond memory, pupils tend to dilate. We link certain events to certain stimuli and research showed that this linkage created a change in eye size. Eyes may also dilate when we have reached a decision or how we are processing information. When we are in deep thought or going through the process of trying to make a difficult decision, our eyes may dilate or constrict depending on our emotions and feelings toward that particular decision or topic we are thinking over. Research shows that many different things can cause these variations in pupil size. It is hard to narrow it down to just a few things because there are so many and people react differently in every situation. Tightening muscles anywhere on the body, anticipation of a loud noise, drugs, eyelid closure, and mental effort all alter pupil size.

While the visual cortex in the back of the brain assembles the images we see, a different, older part of our nervous system manages the continuous tuning of our pupil size, alongside other functions like heart rate and perspiration that operate mostly outside our conscious control. This autonomic nervous system dictates the movement of the iris, like the lens of a camera, to regulate the amount of light that enters the pupil. The iris is made of two types of muscle: in a brightly lit environment, a ring of sphincter muscles that encircle and constrict the pupil down to as little as a couple of millimeters across; in the dark, a set of dilator muscles laid out like bicycle spokes, which can expand the pupil up to 8 millimeters approximately the diameter of a chickpea.

Cognitive and emotional events can also dictate
pupil constriction and expansion, though such events occur on a smaller scale than the light reflex, causing changes generally less than half a millimeter. However, that is enough. By recording subjects’ eyes with infrared cameras and controlling for other factors that might affect pupil size, like brightness, color, and distance, scientists can use pupil movements as a proxy for other processes, like mental strain. (Knapp, Hall & Horgan, 2014, p.318-319)

3. Describe when we gaze more and when we gaze less.

Every day we use non-verbal signals to communicate a wide range of emotions, feelings and desires. One of the most important of these signals is the gaze. I am sure that everyone has had the experience of being on a bus or a train and suddenly feeling quite uncomfortable because you feel that another person is staring at you, even though they may just be staring at a dot on the wall and you happen to be in the same direction. In our everyday interactions, we look at many people, yet we look at them in a specific way in order to avoid discomfort and disagreements. We are never really taught how to look at people, apart from a parent telling us to stop staring when we are very young, but we still manage to understand the way this process works. It may be because we use glances, looks and gazes so much in our routine communications that it has become second nature to us.

There are a number of factors that influence the amount of time we spend looking at someone when we are engaged in conversation; the person who is listening gazes more than the person who is talking, we look more at people that we like and less at people that we do not and we gaze more when we are interested in the topic, than when we are bored. Gaze refers to an individual looking at another person. There are four main functions of gazing. Regulatory is when responses may be demanded or suppressed by looking. Monitoring is looking at the partner to indicate the conclusions of thought units and to check the partner’s attentiveness and reaction. Cognitive is looking away when having difficulty processing information or deciding what to say. Expressive is revealing the nature or degree of involvement and emotional arousal by looking. We gaze more when we are in deep conversations. In each of these functions, we gaze and look at the individual we are conversing with in various degrees of interest. Each of these has a different level of gazing. (Knapp, Hall & Horgan, 2014, p.296-298)

4. How are the eyes used to determine deception?

This question may require outside research. The eyes are the windows to the soul. The eyes are the most expressive area of a person’s entire body. A very important rule in the interpretation of non-verbal behavior, it is to look for breaks in eye contact. Breaks in eye contact, at the point of the answer, are considered deceptive. Breaks in eye contact indicating deception is generally accompanied by additional deceptive body behavior. A break in eye contact is when the interviewee is not, more or less, looking directly at the interviewer’s face and eyes, with the eyes open. Truthful people generally look at the interviewer when they are answering a question. Deceptive people will break eye contact at the instance of the answer. The process of detecting deception, by the use of breaks in eye contact, is used when the investigator is asking a series of questions, directed at the subject. In a question and answer session, the subject will generally maintain eye contact with the investigator, as the investigator is speaking. You should start with questions that are not relevant to the investigation at hand.

Observe the person’s eye contact as you are speaking and they are answering. This will give you a norm for their behavior, what they normally do. Normally, a person will maintain eye contact during the question. You are looking for breaks in eye contact when the subject is answering the question. A truthful subject will maintain good eye contact while listening and will break eye contact to think or to gather thoughts and reestablish eye contact during the answer. For example, you ask a person where they were two nights ago at 10 pm. The subject will probably break eye contact while they are thinking and mentally gathering the information for the answer. This should not be considered a deceptive break in eye contact. The person is merely getting the information for the answer. In a truthful response, the person will regain eye contact and deliver the answer. The deceptive person will not maintain eye contact when they answer the question. They break eye contact, however briefly, while answering the question. After the question is answered, the subject will resume eye contact.

The deceptive break in eye contact occurs at the instance of the answer. These breaks may be subtle, looking away, blinking, rolling eyes, covering their eyes or diverting their attention to another task as they answer and coming back to eye contact after the answer. The break in eye contact is where the subject is mentally running away from you. In some cultures and in some people, they will not make eye contact, constantly looking down or away from you. This process will not work until the person makes eye contact during the conversation. The techniques to gain their eye contact are not addressed in this article. Do not challenge the subject to look you in the eye. This creates false eye contact and obscures your ability to read the true breaks in eye contact. Another variation of breaking eye contact to gather and deliver information is where the subject is telling a story.

For instance, a subject was assaulted and robbed. While telling the story, the person may not look at the investigator as they are presenting the story. In this instance, the person is replaying the incident in their head and narrating the story as they recall. During the story, the person may periodically make direct eye contact when a specific point is made. After the story has been delivered, the subject should regain eye contact, waiting for the investigator to respond. (Givens, 2013)

5. Discuss the different types of gestures.

Speech-independent gestures depend upon culturally accepted interpretation. A wave or two fingers for a peace sign are examples of speech-independent gestures. Speech-independent gestures are nonverbal acts that have a direct verbal translation or dictionary definition, usually consisting of a word or two or a phrase. These gestures are the least dependent on speech for their meaning and most commonly occur as a single gesture. Speech independent gestures consist of nodding, shaking of head, using the middle finger, shrugging, hugs, or thumbs up. Speech-related gestures are used in parallel with verbal speech. This form of nonverbal communication is used to emphasize the message. Speech-related gestures are intended to provide supplemental information to a verbal message such as pointing to an object of discussion.

Speech-related gestures are sometimes called illustrators, or co-speech gestures, are directly tied to or accompany speech. The meanings and functions of these gestures are revealed as we examine how they relate to the attendant spoken language. Speech-related gestures resemble the movements elicited by long-train stimulation of the primate motor cortex. Speech-related hand gestures have their evolutionary origins in functional hand movements of ancestral non-primate and primate species and may be constrained by the neural substrate for those movements. (Knapp, Hall, Horgan, 2014, p. 201-215)

6. Discuss how people use kinesics to persuade others.

The use of kinesics and in everyday life is the most prominent use of persuasion we use without even knowing. They are used unknowing because you may not know what they mean. This can cause cultural tension if you do something that may seem harmless to you but may be a great insult to another culture. Kinesics has many forms, which can be used by many people in the American culture to pursue people daily for various reasons. This use of persuasion is used today in everyday life. Kinesics is articulation of the body, or movement resulting from muscular and skeletal shift. This includes all actions, physical or physiological, automatic reflexes, posture, facial expressions, gestures, and other body movements. Kinesics may substitute for language, accompany it, or modify it. Kinesics may be verbal or informative and directive in nature, or they may be emotive or empathic movements. Posture is one of the components of kinesics. Posture is broken down into three basic positions, bent knees, lying down, and standing. Artists and mimes have always been aware of the range of communication possible through body stance.

However, there are some cultural differences in posture positions. Eye contact helps beggars get more money. Frequent but not prolonged eye contact leads to more persuasion. The lack of eye contact causes the person being spoken to not to trust the speaker. Open body poses are more persuasive. An audience that is standing is more likely to be persuaded than an audience sitting. Another use of kinesics would be proxemics and distance, being closer to a person can be more persuasive. In addition, dressing appropriately is persuasive. Everyone knows if dress well for an interview then you are persuading the interviewer that you are the person for the job. People that are more attractive are more persuasive. (Fisher, 2011)

7. Describe how cultural diversity affects kinesics and eye behaviors.

Kinesics is body motions such as shrugs, foot tapping, drumming fingers, clicking pens, winking, facial expressions, and gestures. Nonverbal behavior or kinesics using observational skills or reading body language to understand a patient’s underlying feelings. Many people reveal more through their facial expressions part of kinesics than they may wish to convey. They may sit alone and frown at what appears to be nothing at all. Others may exhibit a faint pleasant smile or offer a nearly vacant blank stare. Just by observations, you can begin to formulate opinions about others and react according to your impressions. Good kinesics give positive, self-confident, professional, nonverbal messages to people, being especially sensitive to gender or cultural differences. We as Americans may wish to be touched during difficult times or by close friends but generally stand 30 inches apart. Americans do shake hands. Young Americans do demonstrate affection publicly.

Americans are taught to make eye contact. In terms of general kinesics, Americans use hand gestures to indicate when something is okay or give a thumbs up for a good job, and use head nodding to affirm a speaker’s message. African Americans most commonly exhibit behaviors typical of all Americans, but this group tends to touch more, especially around other African Americans. Further, as a group, they stand closer to each other and display more emotion through laughter and touching than is typical of Euro-Americans. Nonverbal communication skills serve various cultures well as you learn to observe and interpret the behavior of others. That which is non-neutral has some meaning. When nonverbal behavior contradicts verbal behavior, your attention must be focused there. Nonverbal interpretations also help you in establishing communication with those who cannot or will not talk. The nonverbal is often more revealing than the spoken word.

The key elements of nonverbal language are kinesics, proxemics, haptics, oculesics, chronemics, olfactics, appearance and adornment, posture, locomotion, sound symbols, silence, and vocalics. You must be aware of what specific physical positions, such as encountering a patient with arms crossed who is staring at the floor, might mean. You must always check your perceptions rather than assuming the meaning of nonverbal behavior, especially when cultural differences may exist. Good observational skills are an important component of the nonverbal process. (O’neil, 2009) 8. Analyze your nonverbal communication using the material in the texts. Nonverbal communication is a broad term used to describe any method of transferring information without words. My nonverbal communication is intentional, and based on many things. Some of my nonverbal communication includes my body language, facial cues, attire, personal grooming, and hand gestures.

Many of the facial expressions I use for example are relatively universal. Most of the time I am communicating fear, joy, or anger when I use nonverbal communication. Other times I use nonverbal cues like bowing, shaking hands, or nodding my head. I use body language as nonverbal communication very often. For example, you may see me turning towards a person when seated and speaking to them is a nonverbal cue by nodding my head. When I tilt my head slightly is a form of nonverbal communication to show curiosity or express that I am listening closely. I may tend to look away to show a lack of attention. Sometime I may position myself far away from whomever I am talking to can show disinterest, disgust, or fear of the person. When I position myself slightly closer that means I am showing interest. When I position myself extremely close that means I am trying to communicate either aggression or a very high level of interest. My attire is another form of nonverbal communication.

My clothing can communicate how I am feeling. It also often acts as a marker for social class. Designer clothing, custom tailored suits or shoes denotes wealth. It can even act as a nonverbal cue for religion or politics as well. My gestures also act as a form of nonverbal communication. I use wide range of hand gestures on a daily basis, such as a wave goodbye, thumbs up to demonstrate everything is okay, a wink to show that something is being left unsaid, or my personal favorite, elbowing someone to let them know that something is wrong, or shrugging my shoulders when I am unsure.


Fisher, J. (2001). Knowing body language saves embarrassment and improves understanding and clarity. Retrieved from http://www.livingbetter.org/livingbetter/articles/bodylanguage.htm Givens, J. (2013). Deception Cue. Retrieved from http://center-for-nonverbal-studies.org/deceive.htm Knapp, M. L., Hall, J. A., & Horgan, T. G. (2014) Nonverbal Communication in Human Interaction. Boston, MA: Wadsworth Cengage Learning. O’neil, D. (2009). Hidden Aspects of Communication. Retrieved from http://anthro.palomar.edu/language/language_6.htm Pfeuffer, K., Vidal, M., Turner, J., Bulling, A., & Gellersen, H. (2013). Pursuit Calibration: Making Gaze Calibration Less Tedious and More Flexible. Retrieved from

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