The Science of Body Language

To celebrate Poison’s release, I’m giving away THREE personalized copies of Poison by random drawing to commentors on this weeks posts. To be eligible, you must leave a comment that includes your e-mail address. Must also live in the USA. Drawing will take place midnight on Saturday, February 9th. Winner announced here at Redwood’s February 10th.

I thought I’d talk a little bit about the research I did for the novel. I’m a research hound for sure and can get easily sidetracked into finding those fun little facts that help make the story more fun and interesting for the reader.

I am fascinated by body language. I often watch Tonya Reiman on the O’Reilly Factor as she analyzes body language. I have not read any of her books so cannot speak to their quality but I did read What Every Body is Saying by Joe Navarro who is an ex-FBI type and I do highly recommend it for anyone wanting to learn more on the subject. 

Some of the most interesting points were as follows:

  • The limbic brain (the emotion center) gives a true response through body language that is congruent with how we really feel. It reacts reflexively, instantly, in real time and without thought. 
  • The neocortex is the higher, thinking part of the brain and is also the least honest. 
  • Non-verbal behaviors are sometimes referred to as “tells” that disclose the person’s true state of mind.
  • What must be determined first is the subject’s baseline behavior which would include:
    • How they typically sit.
    • Where they normally place their hands.
    • Usual position of their feet.
    • Posture and common facial expressions.
    • Tilt of their heads.
    • Where they place and hold possessions.
    • Blink rate
  •   Then you look for signs of discomfort– followed by a pacifying behavior. This might be someone pursing their lips (showing discomfort) and then smoothing their palms over their legs (a pacifying gesture). 
  • In watching Tonya and reading Joe’s book– neither will say that you can 100% tell if a person is lying. What you can see is that surrounding a group of questions– the person has a lot of discomfort/pacifying behaviors and a skilled body language reader will then hone in on that area for questioning.
  • The face is the most dishonest part of they body. Think about it– from the time we are born we are taught to tell “little white lies” with a straight face. According to Joe, the feet are the most honest part of the body. So he prefers a subject to be sitting where he can observe their feet.

What about you– what do you think of the science of body language? have you ever used it in a book?

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