Cultural cultural environments. Literature Review According to Troppa (2009),






Perspectives on Speech Gestures and Posture


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14, 2017









Communication is
the process of producing meaning achieved through either spoken words or
non-verbal words (Allen, 1999). Research shows that non-verbal means of
communication propels sense using other factors rather than words. These
different methods include eye contacts, body movements, usage of space and time
(Knapp and Hall, 2002). Nonverbal communication serves a lot of essential roles
in communicating feelings. It complements the verbal means of communication,
regularizes meaning, reinforces and accentuates information. According to
experts, 65% of communication is affected through nonverbal methods (Burgoon et
al., 2016). The power of nonverbal communication procedures can be affirmed by
the wise saying that “actions speak louder than words”, where the voice is a
verbal element while actions refer the nonverbal component of communication. As
a result, nonverbal clues portray powerful information than the oral means. For
example, it is difficult to deceive people through gestures, facial
expressions, postures, and physical appearance among other signs of body

It is difficult to
alter or change the meaning of spoken words regardless of the culture. For
instance, the word “go” in England will remain the same in Europe and other
geographical locations and thus it is difficult to modify the meaning of a
spoken word. However, studies point out that human beings in a particular
cultural and societal background have a specific purpose attached to their
gestures and gesticulations (Torppa, 2009). Therefore, the nonverbal cues
interpreted are by the culture. The subsequent sections of the proffers answers
to the nonverbal cues of communication, and how society and culture influence
the interpretations of nonverbal means of communication. It addresses mostly the
speech gestures and postures and the truths associated with nonverbal
communications across diversified cultural environments.


According to
Troppa (2009), nonverbal communication spans beyond the act of conventional
mannerisms of sending and receiving information with a sole intention of
communicating feelings. The signals have an impact on the way we relate and
interact with other people. They carry big messages which can show hatred or
love, rudeness or respect, anger or joy, rejection or reception among many others.
The actions portrayed nonverbally are complete to draw lines in a relationship,
and this calls for proper interpretation to get the correct meaning. Krauss et
al. (1996) conducted a psychological research on nonverbal behaviors. The study
came with findings that a communicator in disgust will always wrinkle his nose,
bare his or her teeth, narrow the eyes and shows a staring gesture of wide eyes
when in fear. Facial expressions are one of the aspects of nonverbal behavior that
serve multiple roles; such as functioning like an affective role of experience
and also effects of communication by relaying info concerning the emotional
state of the person expressing it. Gestures and posture portray various
meanings according to the use and the culture of a particular society (Torppa,

In reference to Verderber &
Sellnow (2013), there are three primary fields of nonverbal communication, and
these include body language, physical environment and personal attributes. Body
language is also known as kinesics communication, which is also characterized
by facial expression, postures and movements of some body parts. The physical
environment, also referred to as proxemics communication is assisted by the
utilization of the available distance, space and proximity to other human
beings. Personal attributes as proposed by Verderber & Sellnow (2013) are
used for modification of appearances. Subliminal and conscious messages are
part of nonverbal communication, and in this case, the sender knows that a sent
message is conveyed together with its general meaning for the comprehension of
the receiver. Furthermore, a received signal results from the intellect and
sender’s consent. For instance, welcoming a hug comes with the intent of
demonstrating friendship. The receiver of subliminal messages sometimes does
not possess knowledge of the intended content although the subconscious reading
forms it due to the importance of the information (Torppa, 2009). As an
example, military and police uniforms subliminally communicate power and authority
of the people who wear them. As a consequence, the messages are taken
subconsciously by the receivers and have a significant influence on them.

The expression of
body emotions takes place through gestures and postures. One of the most
crucial parts of social interaction are the emotions and its associated
physical interpretations. They communicate our feelings to other human beings
and thus impacts the social outcomes. In the 19th century, Charles Darwin
studied the physical expression of feelings and documented the findings in his
seminal book. His studies thus were able to reveal the significant functions of
body movements and social expressions in expression of the animal’s and man’s
feelings (Knapp et al., 2013).

societies express different modalities according to the culture. Raising an
eyebrow convenes a message of skepticism, a smile is an indication of
agreements and pleasure and clenching of teeth replicates cold anger. Faces are
utilized as a means of stimulating human beings, more than 95% of literary work
that documents human emotions. Few studies have been made on the manner in
which our bodies convey emotions such as the adoption of a collapsed posture,
when a person is suffering from depression or showing interest by leaning
forward (Knapp et al., 2013). Various cultures perceive standing, seating and
lying as three different postures. Research shows that it is not a guarantee
that all movements are gestures, but it also proves beyond doubt that all
gestures are movements. A gesture movement delivers intentional or
non-intentional information. The hand and arm gesture are classified into
adaptors, emblems and illustrators (Knapp et al., 2013). These carry out
different messages and have varied perceptions in various societies.


1.      How
does society and culture influence the interpretation of non-verbal
communication cues?

2.      How
do human beings and other cultures perceive our posture?


1.      To
examine the speech gestures and the interpretation in different cultural

2.      To
determine the manner in which other people, as well as cultures, perceive our

3.      To
determine the effect of societal and cultural influence on the interpretation
of the signs of nonverbal communication.


1.      Culture
does not affect the interpretation of the non-verbal cues of communication.

2.      There
is no significant difference between the perception of speech gestures as well
as our postures in the existing societal and cultural background.


The research utilized interviews and
questionnaires as the primary methods of collecting data.


A questionnaire is
an instrument of research which consists of a serious of questions aimed at
gathering info from the respondents. The Statistical Society of London invented
the survey in 1838. Questionnaires are mostly used for the qualitative analysis
of data. The method was adopted in the research because it has several merits
over the other types of surveys. For instance, the plan is cheap and requires
little effort compared to telephone survey (Torppa, 2009). Furthermore, they
have standardized answers which simplify the process of data compilation.
Despite possessing such advantages, the method has various drawbacks. Some of
these include that the standardized answers may sometimes frustrate the users.
Also, the questionnaires are also limited because the respondent is required to
read and answer the questions contained in the poll. As a result, the method
may not be concrete for particular demographic groups which are carrying out
the survey (Burgoon et al. 2016).

In the research, a
questionnaire consisting of twenty questions was designed to fit the topic of
the study. Some of the issues included in the planned questionnaire included
questions such as “What is your cultural view on speech gestures and posture?”,
“Does your culture have a significant impact on the interpretation of body
language and other nonverbal signs of communication?” among other questions.
The respondents were expected to tick one of the six choices which were
provided in the checkbox. The choices included “strongly agree, agree, ambivalent,
disagree and strongly disagree” with the questions addressed to them. Thirty
questionnaires were then distributed among fifteen ladies and fifteen gentlemen
of varied cultural backgrounds. The results were later collected after a day
and analyzed.


Three principal
classes of interviews exist. They include unstructured, structured and
semi-structured. The structured interviews are similar to questions because the
questions which are asked during the process are always predetermined. The
administration of the formal discussions is secure and are particularly useful
for clarification of specific issues or in cases where the respondents are
illiterate. On the other hand, unstructured interviews do not utilize any
preconceived ideas or theories. Therefore, they are performed with little or no
organization. The semi-structured interviews consist of various crucial
questions that define the areas which need exploration. Besides, it gives an
opportunity to the person conducting the interview and the one being
interviewed to diverge to pursue a feedback or idea in depth (Burgoon et al.
2016). The study employed semi-structured interviews because they were some
concepts which required a detailed exploration to establish the truth. The
interview involved twenty people by basing the process on nonverbal
communication as the dominant topic. Some of the questions asked in the
research included “how does society and culture influence the interpretation of
non-verbal communication cues? Demonstrate some speech gestures and postures
and describe the message they relay according to your culture.” among other

and Discussion

Out of the thirty
questionnaires given out, twenty-seven people responded adequately to the
questions contained in the design. The percentage of people who answered the
model efficiently corresponds to 90%. 84% of the respondents were also in
agreement that various body languages have different interpretations according
to the societal and cultural norms of the community. The high percentage
disapproved the null hypothesis which stated that culture has no effect on
interpretation of nonverbal cues of communication. 86% of the respondents
strongly agreed that speech gestures and postures sometimes get misinterpreted
leading to relaying the wrong information. 63% of the interviewees agreed that
the nonverbal cues especially the speech gestures and positions are more potent
in driving information home as compared to the spoken words. Moreover, 72% of
the interviewees also agreed that nonverbal cues could be utilized to
communicate a person’s emotions.




Communication is a
method of producing meaning that is achieved through either spoken words or
non-verbal words (Allen, 1999). Nonverbal communication carries heavy messages
which can show hatred or love, rudeness or respect, anger or joy, rejection or
reception among others. The interpretation of the nonverbal signs of
communication varies from one culture to another. Particular norms in the
society dictate the understanding of speech gestures and postures.














Knapp, M. L., Hall, J.
A., & Horgan, T. G. (2013). Nonverbal communication in human
interaction. Cengage Learning.

Allen, L. Q. (1999).
Functions of nonverbal communication in teaching and learning a foreign
language. French Review, 469-480.

Burgoon, J. K.,
Guerrero, L. K., & Floyd, K. (2016). Nonverbal communication.

Torppa, C. B. (2009).
Nonverbal communication: Teaching your child the skills of social
success. Fact sheet family & consumer sciences, 1, 3.

Krauss, R. M., Chen,
Y., & Chawla, P. (1996). Nonverbal behavior and nonverbal communication:
What do conversational hand gestures tell us? Advances in experimental
social psychology, 28, 389-450.

Verderber, K. S.,
Verderber, R. F., & Sellnow, D. D. (2013). Communicate! Cengage