Kinesics is the study nonverbal communication. Nonverbal communication is primarily conducted through the use of gestures, facial expressions, and body language. These sometimes subtle cues are estimated to convey as much as seventy percent of the context of a conversation.
During a conversation much of the attention is paid to the expressions of the face and eyes. The eyes are typically thought to be the “windows to the soul”. The face and eyes are highly expressive allowing messages to be sent to others. This subfield of kinesics is called oculesics.
Police use these observations when interviewing suspects and witnesses.
When investigators ask a suspect a question they watch his eye movements. When asked a question about a specific event, if the (right-handed) suspect looks:
- Up and to the right (VC), he probably did not commit the act and is trying to picture the event in his mind.
- Up and to the left (VR), he probably committed the offense and is actually remembering (re-living) the act in his mind.
- Directly to his right (AC), he is trying to imagine what sounds – gun shots, screams, etc. – would have been heard at the crime scene had he been there.
- Directly to the left (AR), he probably committed the act and he’s remembering the sounds he heard while he was at the scene of the crime.
- Down and to the right (F), he is recalling emotions or sensations, such as how he felt when he first smelled burnt gunpowder or the feel of wet, sticky blood on his hands.
- Down and to the left (Ai), he is talking to himself as he thinks about what he’s done.
*Kinesics works nearly every time. Eye movements are opposite for left-handed people.
Here are the kineme, or shorthand symbols for facial clues. Why not try them out?