Secrets of Body Language

91 minutes 8.4/10 based on 15 votes

Delve into the science of non-verbal signals as this very visual and highly entertaining exposé reveals the hidden language in which 93% of human communication takes place.

From President Franklin D. Roosevelt, to British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and 2008 presidential hopefuls Senators Barack Obama and John McCain, see how both politicians and celebrities use the subtle movements of body language to persuade masses, establish power, and advance careers.

Released in 2008. 90 min. Directed by Zalman King. TV documentary.

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  • Jason

    Take this down, it’s set to private so nobody can even watch it.

    • Me

      No it’s not.

  • Wilds

    I watched this but wasn’t convinced by the claims made. I think ‘body language’ is on a level with phrenology i.e. bogus pseudo-science.

    The doc shows people interpreting body language as they watch video of famous people. They know the history and then read back from their knowledge to say this or that body language reveals evidence of the internal state. For example, they watch old video of Nixon (known to be a liar) and then say this or that gesture betrays that he is lying. Yeah, right. That is about as convincing as having someone who knows the lottery results going back to old video footage of the results being drawn and ‘predicting’ the numbers as they are called. Gee, that’s amazing. Not.

    Now do the same trick with an anonymous member of the public and determine are they lying or not. Can’t do any better than random results? Yep, thought so.

    The best research evidence (such as there is) suggests that there might (repeat might) be a correlation between body language ‘X’ and self-reported internal state ‘Y’ e.g. that eye movement ‘X’ might correlate with self-reported internal state ‘Y — I am lying’. Correlation is a statistical relationship which means X and Y occur together in a way which is more frequent than would occur in a purely random situation. Nothing about correlation implies causality i.e. that X causes Y or Y causes X. Because this research relies so much on self-reporting the results are highly subjective and not very replicable. Makes for quite poor quality evidence. Not something I would ever want to rely on if I had a choice.

    People have put this bogus ‘science’ together and use it as the basis for a business e.g. (a) selling their skills as people able to read body language and/or teach others such skills and/or teaching others to manipulate body language e.g. coach politicians how to win over voters etc or (b) selling technology that automates this reading of body language to create e.g. cost-effective security systems.

    It worries me that the profit motive drives this bogus science and that the industry tries to blag itself into situations where it does not belong e.g. as ‘expert witness’ in court cases.

    This doc left a bad taste in my mouth.

    • Anthony

      Completely agree. With you Wilds

    • Pseudo-science? Clearly this documentary is not very serious but pseudo-science?

      Go read Desmond Morris.

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