In 1952, Ray Birdwhistell, anthropologist, conducted the first scientific study of body language. The study showed that 65% to 70% of all communication is based on non-verbal communication. Non-verbal communications are: Kinesics – body movements, Vocalics – tone; Haptics – touch; Proxemics – space; Chronemics – use of time; Physical Appearance – physical features; Artifacts – possessions shown to another and Environment - surroundings. Kinesics is defined as communication with facial expressions, posture, body movements, gestures and eye contact (McCornack, 2007). Like other forms of communication kinesics can sometimes be interpreted or misinterpreted with positive or negative effects.
In the United States of America, a way of paying attention to someone speaking is to make eye to eye contact. Looking at an inanimate object or at someone else is rude and insulting to the one who is speaking. Avoiding eye contact may also imply the avoider is shy, intimidated or has low self esteem. African Americans in general often look down when they are listening and look up when speaking to someone. However; with some African Americans, a child looking directly into parents eyes while being scolded is interpreted as not respecting your elders and ignoring authority. A child should hold his head down to show humility without making any eye contact. Rolling the eyes (shifting eyes in socket from one side to another) communicates disapproval, disgust, weariness, disdain and a host of other emotions that are negative (Jackson, 2003).
In Asian cultures making eye contact for an extended amount of time communicates as a confrontation or challenge to someone that