Rethinking Body Language Published

June 2016

Geoff Beattie, Professor of Psychology, has written Rethinking Body Language, which builds on cutting-edge research to offer a new theoretical perspective on body language.


In contrast to the traditional view that body language is primarily concerned with the expression of emotions and the negotiation of social relationships, Professor Beattie argues that gestures reflect aspects of our thinking, but in a different way to verbal language.

He said:

“In this book I take a fresh look at what body language means. We know that people express their emotions through body language and that we use body language to signal our attitudes to other people, but in this new book I suggest that one form of body language, namely the spontaneous, dynamic hand movements that we make when we talk, also reflect aspects of our thinking that we think are hidden.


“Hand movements accompany everyday talk and convey core parts of the underlying message.  However, since we have little awareness of these spontaneous hand movements they can be very revealing. We are good at controlling what we say, but we find it very difficult or impossible to control the form of these unconsciously generated movements.


“They may therefore, on occasion, not match the speech and these gesture-speech mismatches can act as a critical cue to underlying psychological state and deception.  This new book should change how you look at other people.  It shows that the body is even more revealing than we first thought.”


The book has been reviewed by David McNeill, the eminent American psychologist from the University of Chicago who specialises in scientific research in psycholinguistics and the relationship of language to thought.


He said:

“(This) eye opening book ends the myth that the body has its own language. Gestures and speech unify, and Beattie provides new understanding of exactly how.”


Marcel Danesi, Professor of Semiotics and Linguistic Anthropology at the University of Toronto has described the book as “in depth and thorough investigation into the many modalities of communication, emotion and cognition involved in body language. It is brilliant and a must read for anyone who is interested in the mind-body-culture nexus that makes humans unique.”
Professor Beattie is the author of 20 books and more than 100 journal articles. He is a fellow both of the Royal Society of Medicine and the British Psychological Society.


Rethinking Body Language is published by Routledge and available now.