Gender Difference in Nonverbal Communication

Topics: Gender, Gesture, Nonverbal communication Pages: 6 (1962 words) Published: December 12, 2013
Running Head: Gender Difference in Nonverbal Communication

Observational Research on Gender Difference in Nonverbal Communication Annie Murray, Mia , Lacresha McElrath
Columbia College
HUMS 300, Summer Term


This paper examines the issue of gender differences in the use of hand gestures as a form of nonverbal communication. While there is perhaps a tendency, at least in the U.S., to assume that women surpass men in this particular category, the research does not support that assumption or hypothesis. Indeed, a number of scholars and experts seem to have conducted studies that show quite the opposite. Men and women are probably equally likely to use hand gestures, depending on the situation and their audience. It is likely that the type of gesture is the most distinguishing aspect between males and females, with women using more limited or smaller gestures, while men tend to make grander gestures that are larger in a spatial sense. This seems to concur with the idea that men are likely to be much more expansive in relation to the space that is available to them in any given situation.

If we are to believe the old adage, ‘actions speak louder than words,’ there is potentially a wealth of information that can be derived from a person’s nonverbal methods of communication. Mannerisms can often tip us off to whether or not a person might be nervous or somehow uncomfortable. Lack of eye contact or shifting position can be an indicator that we might not have another person’s full attention or indeed, that perhaps what we are saying is boring and is therefore incapable of sustaining another person’s interest. There is a lot written about the reasons of nonverbal communication, as well as how different actions can be interpreted. This study, however, examines the specific frequency in which hand gestures are utilized in the course of conversation or interaction, as well as determining if there are any distinct gender differences between how often men and women are likely to use gestures as a means of communication. Review of the Literature

A number of different actions and behaviors can be viewed as nonverbal behavior. However, the scope of this paper will be limited to the use of hand gestures as nonverbal communication. Specifically, gestures in this capacity can consist of signals or deliberate movements that act as a significant manner in which to communicate without having to use words. Included within this category are such things as pointing, waving, and the use of fingers to signify number values. Although the observational approach to identifying frequency in the use of hand gestures is far from being an exact science, Wietz notes, “Gestures themselves are nothing more than movements of expression which have been given special qualities by the urge to communicate and to understand” (1979). Prior to the advent of language, gestures were arguably the simplest way for people to communicate with one another. With the development of language, however, the necessity for using hand gestures was essentially eliminated. Human beings started out with an innate drive to use their hands to communicate, thus, a large majority of the population continues to utilize hand gestures, often as a means of adding an additional dimension or emphasis to their spoken words.Author Louann Brizendine published a book in 2007 entitled The Female Brain. In one particular aspect of the book she focuses on the sex differences that exist in ‘communication events’ per day, suggesting that women have an average of 20,000 communication events per day, while men are likely to have approximately 7,000 communication events per day. Communication events include spoken words, of which women are estimated to produce between 6,000 to 8,000 per day, as well as an additional 2,000 to 3,000 vocal sounds and anywhere between 8,000 to 10,000...

References: Brizendine, Louann. (2007). The Female Brain. Broadway Publishers.
(1988). Power Displays Between Women and Men in Discussions of Gender-Linked
Tasks: A Multichannel Study
No. 4, 580-587. Retrieved July 1, 2010 from
Liberman, Mark. (2006). Language Lot: Sex Differences in “Communication Events” Per Day?
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Retrieved July 1, 2010 from
O’Connell, Timothy S. and Cuthbertson, Brent. (2008). Group Dynamics in Recreation and
Leisure: Creating Conscious Groups Through an Experiential Approach
Wietz, Shirley. (Ed.). (1979). Nonverbal Communication: Readings with Commentary.
New York: NY: Oxford University Press.
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