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An Examination of the Relationship Between Jeopardy by Kinesics and Deception in Nonverbal Communication

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Deception is best defined as an action that misleads by false appearance or state. Deception can alter the way we communicate by diminishing trust, loyalty, and respect from other individuals. In addition, deception could potentially alter our behavior and mannerisms while engaged in communication. While deception interferes with our communication, kinesics and our nonverbal gestures help to evoke confrontations. The relationships that we form are put in jeopardy by deception and kinesics (Burgoon, Schuetzler, Wilson, 2015). In this paper, the impact of kinesics and deception in nonverbal communication is examined. It is proposed that kinesic deception lies in various parts of our nonverbal behavior and communication. The following research studies will try to support that claim. According to Levine, Asada and Park (2006), truth tellers and liars carry on various patterns of nonverbal behavior. Liars have a tendency to use more hand gestures, adaptors, more pauses, more speech errors, and shorter talk durations than truth tellers. Emotions like guilt and fear can attempt to draw out deceivers and control our behavioral display. Deception has many nonverbal cues that act as signals when in conversation. Levine, Park, and Asada (2006) best define Nonverbal cues as evidence that people use to indicate whether or not someone maintains direct verbal translation. Deception theories and additional research suggest that nonverbal source behaviors verify judgments.


Park (2002) argued that deception couldn’t be detected at the time of a lie being told. This is based on nonverbal behaviors of the person whose message is under scrutiny. This was tested when park called for a research experiment where research participants would test their deception. In this experiment, 200 people are tasked with recalling lies. Once they were finished, they all had to complete a series of questions about the tools that they used to recall their lies. These participants had to include the circumstances of detection and the time that took to revisit the lies. The results showed that less than 2% of the recalled lies were detected at the time the lies were told. Deception is liable to be detected through a number of ways. Whether or not it is detected at the start of a lie or later in time varies by person.

Deception ranges from a number of nonverbal reactions. One of which happens in to be hand gestures. Researchers Caso, Maricchiolo, Bonaiuto, Vrij, Mann (2006) examine the relationships that we engage in through hand gestures and deception. These researchers found two key hand gestures to be a direct indication of deception. Illustrators modify anything being said, and Self Adapters that pose as gestures of self-contact that serves to satisfy self-needs. Interactions and conversations develop with liars and truth tellers. Illustrators display movements of discourse and dismay throughout a conversation. A brief example of an illustrator would be a wave of displeasure with food after eating near someone. Visually the hand gesture makes it appear as if the food is bad when in fact the person eating could be deceiving them. This is also visible in self-adaptors. To use the same example, lets say that the person isn’t waving their hand away from the food. Instead he picks it up and moves it around as if its gross or unappetizing. Both forms of hand gestures are directly tied to deception.

Self-Adaptors and Illustrators are not the only forms of hand gestures that tie in to deception. Ekman and Friesen (1969b) have three more distinguished categories of hand gestures. Other methods of gestures include emblems, regulator signals, and emotional displays. These methods also identify a form of communication called Kinesics. Emblems consist of conventional and cultural signs. An example of this would be the peace symbol with your index and middle finger. Regulator signals relate to how we control conversational flow. This can be done when public speakers are fidgeting with their hands throughout conversation. Emotional display simply connects emotional state expressions to our hand gestures. This can range anywhere from wiping away tears to pounding fists in frustration. There are many different hand gestures that tie into deception. Hand gestures can be major or minor based on the situation. Both liars and truth tellers have the ability to use hand gestures to convey deception.

Kinesics Kinesics is best defined as the way in which we communicate through motion. This consists of facial expressions and gestures. Kinesics is a nonverbal act of communication. In terms of deception, this type of communication plays a significant role in everyday interactions. (Mann, Vrij, Leal et al., 2012) Eye contact has a connection to deception. Eye contact is more deliberate than it is traditional. Deliberate eye contact allows communication to expand for longer periods of time and trigger mixed emotions. In terms of deception, eye contact can be useful to liars and truth tellers. Kinesics enables nonverbal communication methods like eye contact to take its form.

To better understand kinesics and deception, we can revisit hand gestures. Vrij & Mann went on to give a more detailed view of hand gestures in their study. The actions that we tend to use with our hands give off a message that others perceive in various ways. These actions may range from snapping your fingers to pounding your fists. Emblems, Illustrators, Affect Displays, Regulators, and Adaptors are all applications to kinesics. Emblems act as a replacement for most words and various phrases. Illustrators reinforce all verbal messages. Affect Displays convey forms of emotion. Regulators deal with the flow of all communication. Adaptors primarily handle emotional and physical tension in communication. Through kinesic applications, our interactions with people tend to form. Actions like crossing your legs while sitting or even opening your legs can fall under one of the kinesic applications. Now more than ever, our body movement is shown as a sign of what kind of person we our. For example, Authoritative figures like Presidents and elected officials will be judged if they’re seen crossing arms, nodding heads, and waving their hands in an untimely fashion. Kinesics enables us to read body language and communicate either with a person directly, or without their presence being felt.

Nonverbal Communication

Nonverbal Communication is becoming one of the most widely used forms in today’s day and age. More closely, nonverbal communication allows us to prevent others from knowing exactly what we want them to know. According to DePaulo (2003), nonverbal communication enables more people to develop a tendency to lie. Nonverbal communication can carry a negative behavior that allows for deceptive cues to take place. Deceptive cues are actions that take place whenever an individual causes or uses deception in communication. These cues lead to tendencies such as less eye gazing, more posture shifts, and less smiling.

Our nonverbal behavior heavily impacts our communication. For example, two people engage in an argument. Instead of yelling when upset, the silent treatment gives off a new attitude. No longer would you have to yell to express any emotions to the other person. Nonverbal behavior acts as a buffer between emotions and how others perceive you. Another example would be if a girl is at a party and a boyfriend of a close friend kisses her on the cheek. The behavior of the boyfriend is thus put into question. In most cases, this nonverbal communication raises a series of red flags. Is the kiss friendly? Is the kiss serious? What does the friend think about the kiss and does she know about it? To reexamine this example, nonverbal communication and deception is reviewed. As previously mentioned, deception is defined as an action that misleads by false appearance or state. The kiss example doesn’t carry any context, but it can exploit signs of deceptive behavior. If the boyfriend knew that his girlfriends close friend had feelings toward him and would react a certain way, the intentions behind the kiss would change drastically. Many instances of nonverbal communication carry components of deception without a presence being known.

Nonverbal communication varies from being in-person and away from someone else. When facing someone, it’s much easier to decipher communication through kinesics. After all, body movements require a body to be visible. To examine a different kind of situation between nonverbal communication and deception, we can take a brief look into social media. Texting, Instant Messaging, and commenting can carry numerous factors of deception. A brief example of this would be “Cat fishing” and the culture around it. Individuals deliberately falsify an identity of someone else and deceive others into believing them. In time, the identity is eventually discovered and the communication between both parties is severed. Nonverbal communication is forever growing and takes a lot of time to fully understand. Nonverbal cues give off a certain attitude or vibe that is felt by another person. This can be seen more commonly through methods of kinesics. Indicators like eye contact and hand gestures are a small but frequent factor in how we can communicate and even deceive another person.

Conclusion Kinesic Deception is taking place every single day. A lot of people continue to do it, and it continues to be done to a lot of people as well. Deception ranges from many nonverbal reactions.

Most reactions consist of body movements used to communicate, also known as kinesics. My research and sources provided much info regarding methods of deception. Although many of my resources highlighted the problems that were met by kinesic deception, there was room for improvement. Many of my studies focused on one aspect of nonverbal communication. Ideally, I would’ve liked my research from Vrij & Mann (2006) to go more in depth on the reasons as to why deception is more common through nonverbal cues versus verbal cues. I believe that sort of comparison would’ve been a lot more beneficial. Also, I would’ve liked to see Park (2002) explain how nonverbal deceptive methods in kinesics can be identified. Some of the examples are helpful to point out problems, but some results on the solutions could’ve also been included.

In closing, Kinesic deception is all around us. The nonverbal kinesic applications that we use can prove to be helpful or hurtful in various ways. We are capable of misleading certain individuals through eye contact, hand gestures, posture, and many other body movements. Hand gestures enable Self Adaptors and Illustrators to take place of movements that identify self-needs. Meanwhile, other methods like eye contact evoke deception between liars and truth tellers. Those who are aware of it tend to partake in it more often than not. Others who are not as aware tend to be deceived just as often. Deception is a powerful tool that we all control. The methods in which we use it depend on not only our minds, but our body as well. Even though we carry various tools to control our communication, we still have an innate ability to fall under deceptive ways.

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