Which conveys more information about a person, verbal or nonverbal cues?
Irving Goffman talked about the presentation of the self in the public place whereby he underscored the fact that the first impression plays a critical role in determining the interpersonal interactions, as well as the behavior of the individual. This implies that other people can judge the conduct of a person through observation of both verbal and non-verbal cues. Based on this, people are tasked with the responsibility of ensuring that they are attractive to be impressive.
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People would always try their best to study the conduct of an individual since it helps in defining the situation, as well as enabling the prediction of the actions. Both verbal and non-verbal cues are important in studying the activities and the ways of life, but non-verbal cues seem to be more important in understanding feelings and attitudes. Floyd conducted an extensive study, which established that non-verbal signs convey more information as compared to verbal cues.
The study concluded that non-verbal signals help in exposing 70% of human actions while verbal message might just reveal 30-35%. Whenever an individual is in a public place, he or she will always try to avoid introducing topics that might reveal his or her attitudes, feelings, or individual orientation to the world.
The use of language is often regulated since it is a product of culture. Individuals are socialized in such a way that they would tend to be selective when using language, but non-verbal cues are utilized differently in various societies.
The gesture is one of the non-verbal cues that are mostly relied upon in the understanding of human actions. People are socialized to use certain types of movements whenever they want to convey messages, particularly when they lack words. In a classroom setting, for example, the teacher can easily establish whether the student is paying attention to the proceedings by simply reviewing the posture.
A student can give an accurate answer, but the posture tells something different (Goffman, 1959). The use of non-verbal signals, such as smell, touch, and appearance, is critical in understanding the views, feelings, and attitudes of individuals.
Verbal cues are mostly used in conveying information that is mainly external to the speaker, whereas non-verbal signals are utilized effectively in maintaining interpersonal relationships. In many cultures, attitudes are communicated through touch, meaning that it would be challenging to understand the actions of individuals without non-verbal signals.
Are there any social settings where people are not engaged in impression management?
Goffman concluded his study by observing that people are always engaged in drama in the public place, implying that impression management is the aim of every individual. People will do everything possible to ensure that they attract the attention of the public even when the situation does not warrant.
Impression management is defined as a goal-directed cognisant or cataleptic process in which individuals try to influence the views and opinions of others concerning personality, item, or incident. This process is achieved through behavior regulation and information control in all social interactions (Herman, Roth, & Polivy, 2003).
As Goffman noted, people would construct an image to claim the individual identity, as well as present themselves in a way that is perceived to be consistent with their images. When an individual realizes that achieving personal identity is impossible, he or she becomes defiant, as a way of reacting to the situation. This implies that impression management is fundamental to all forms of interactions. Therefore, it cannot be avoided, as it takes place even without the knowledge of the individual.
Goffman, E. (1959). The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life. New York, NY: Doubleday.
Herman, P. C., Roth, D. A., & Polivy, J. (2003). Effects of the Presence of Others on Food Intake: A Normative Interpretation. Psychological bulletin, 129(6), 873–86.