Flat screens, phones and laptops soon will blaze with a body-language blitz: sweaty palms clasping mouths in disbelief, muscled arms folded in disagreement and – the sweetest Olympic pose – two fists hoisted aloft in displays of golden bliss.
“That position – the arms raised high – evokes triumph and it’s very ancient,” says Margaret J. King, director of the Center for Cultural Studies & Analysis in Philadelphia.
“We still use body language because that’s the way our brains worked (eons) years ago when we first became human,” King said. “That brain is still ticking away; all research based on evolutionary psychology demonstrates that we are living in the 21st century with that same ancestral brain. This is what is called hard wiring. We still have the same bodily workshop. We just do different stuff in that workshop.”
“Body language is not an either-or situation,” adds Dennis Kravetz, a Scottsdale-Ariz.-based psychologist who specializes in male-female communication and body language. “If speech is more sophisticated than body language, then why haven’t chimps, dogs, and other animals developed speech as part of their evolutionary history? Rather, body language enhances communication.”
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