Encyclopedia of Behavioral Medicine

Living Edition
| Editors: Marc Gellman

Communication, Nonverbal

  • Ross BuckEmail author
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4614-6439-6_633-2



Communication involves three elements: sender, receiver, and message. In nonverbal communication, the message does not involve words, but rather employs body language. There are three major sorts of nonverbal communication. Symbolic nonverbal communication is the intentional encoding of a message that is decoded by the receiver, the grammar and vocabulary of which must be learned by both sender and receiver. It is propositional in that it is capable of logical analysis (e.g., it can be false). Symbolic nonverbal communication includes sign language, finger spelling, and pantomime, as well as facial expressions and gestures associated with language. In Ekman and Friesen’s (1969) analysis, the latter include emblems with specific “dictionary” definitions, illustrators of what is said, and regulators of interaction flow. Left hemisphere damage produces deficits in both linguistic and symbolic-nonverbal communication.

Spontaneous communicationinvolves...

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References and Further Reading

  1. Buck, R. (1984). The communication of emotion. New York: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  2. Buck, R., & Duffy, R. (1980). Nonverbal communication of affect in brain damaged patients. Cortex, 16, 351–362.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Buck, R., & van Lear, C. A. (2002). Verbal and nonverbal communication: Distinguishing symbolic, spontaneous, and pseudo-spontaneous nonverbal behavior. Journal of Communication, 52, 522–541.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Ekman, P., & Friesen, W. V. (1969). Nonverbal leakage and cues to deception. Psychiatry, 32, 88–105.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Ekman, P., & Friesen, W. V. (1975). Unmasking the face. Englewood Cliffs: Prentice-Hall.Google Scholar
  6. Ross, E. (1981). The aprosodias: Functional-anatomic organization of the affective components of language in the right hemisphere. Archives of Neurology, 38, 561–569.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Communication Sciences and PsychologyUniversity of ConnecticutStorrsUSA

Section editors and affiliations

  • Steven A. Safren
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of MiamiCoral GablesUSA