Nonverbal Communication

For many years I have conducted detailed analyses of how speech and nonverbal behaviour act together in everyday communication. My research has shown how imagistic hand movements unconsciously carry critical aspects of the underlying meaning and how listeners effortlessly integrate information from these movements with that contained in the accompanying speech.

The research has also focussed on cases where the speech and the hand movements refer to the same basic concept or idea, but they do not seem to correspond, instead there is a ‘mismatch’. In these cases the idea expressed in the hand movement tends to be a much more accurate reflection of the underlying thought than the speech itself. And this occurs for one very simple reason, namely the ‘unconscious meaning unconsciously expressed’ has not been controlled or edited by the speaker to send a particular type of message.

My research has shown how this can be crucial in the identification of deception and in recognizing that speakers may have implicit attitudes at odds with the attitudes they report.

I have presented my research on communication in various keynote addresses and lectures to a wide range of outside organisations including Tesco, Unilever, P&G, ITV, HSBC, PricewaterhouseCoopers, the annual conference of High and Supreme Court judges in Ireland, the Marketing Society, the Equality Challenge Unit, the Malaysian Olympic Association, the British Council, The Samaritans etc., and various advertising and PR companies including the Central Office of Information (formerly the government’s own advertising agency), Red Brick Road Advertising Agency (Tesco’s agency), Hall and Partners, Cassidy Communications etc.

Selected Publications

Beattie, G. (2018)
The Body’s Little Secrets: A Novel.
London: Gibson Square

Beattie, G. (2017)
The Conflicted Mind: And Why Psychology Has Failed to Deal With It.
London: Routledge

Beattie, G. (2016)
Rethinking Body Language: How Hand Movements Reveal Hidden Thoughts.
London: Routledge.

Beattie, G. (2016)
How Donald Trump bullies with his body language.
D. Lilleker, E. Thorsen, D. Jackson & A. Veneti (Eds.), US Election Analysis 2016: Media, Voters and the Campaign.
Bournemouth: CSJCC

Beattie, G. & Sale, L. (2012)
Do metaphoric gestures influence how a message is perceived? The effects of metaphoric gesture-speech matches and mismatches on semantic communication and social judgment.
Semiotica 192: 77-98

Beattie, G, & Shovelton, H. (2011)
An exploration of the other side of semantic communication: How the spontaneous movements of the human hand add crucial meaning to narrative.
Semiotica 184: 31-51

Cohen, D., Beattie, G. & Shovelton, H. (2011)
Tracking the distribution of individual semantic features in gesture across spoken discourse: New perspectives in multi-modal interaction.
Semiotica 185: 147-188

Beattie, G., Webster, K. & Ross, J. (2010)
The fixation and processing of the iconic gestures that accompany talk.
Journal of Language and Social Psychology 29: 194-213

Cohen, D., Beattie, G. & Shovelton, H. (2010)
Nonverbal indicators of deception: How iconic gestures reveal thoughts that cannot be suppressed.
Semiotica 182: 133-174

Holler, J, Shovelton, H & Beattie, G. (2009)
Do iconic gestures really contribute to the communication of semantic information in a face-to-face context.
Journal of Nonverbal Behavior 33: 73-88

Beattie, G. (2008)
What we know about how the human brain works. In Lannon, J. (ed.). How Public Service Advertising Works.
UK: World Advertising Research Centre

Beattie, G. & Shovelton, H. (2007)
The role of iconic gesture in semantic communication and its theoretical and practical implications.
In Duncan, S., Cassell, J. & Levy, E. (eds.) Gesture and the Dynamic Dimension of Language. (pp.221-241). Philadelphia: John Benjamins

Beattie, G. & Shovelton, H. (2006)
When size really matters: How a single semantic feature is represented in the speech and gesture modalities.
Gesture 6: 63-84

Beattie, G. & Shovelton, H. (2005)
Why the spontaneous images created by the hands during talk can help make TV advertisements more effective.
British Journal of Psychology 96: 21-37

Beattie, G. & Shovelton, H. (2004)
Body Language. In R. Gregory (Ed). Oxford Companion to the Mind.
Oxford: Oxford University Press

Beattie, G. (2003)
Visible Thought: The New Psychology of Body Language. Read more
London: Routledge

Holler, J. & Beattie, G. (2003)
Pragmatic aspects of representational gestures: Do speakers use them to clarify verbal ambiguity for the listener?
Gesture 3: 127-154

Jordan, R. & Beattie, G. (2003)
Understanding male interpersonal violence: A discourse analytic approach to accounts of violence ‘on the door.’
Semiotica 144: 101-141

Holler, J. & Beattie, G. (2003)
How iconic gestures and speech interact in the representation of meaning: are both aspects really integral to the process?
Semiotica 146: 81-116

Holler, J. & Beattie, G. (2002)
A micro-analytic investigation of how iconic gestures and speech represent core semantic features in talk.
Semiotica 142: 31-69

Beattie, G. & Shovelton, H. (2002)
Blue-eyed boys? A winning smile? An experimental investigation of some core facial stimuli that may affect interpersonal perception.
Semiotica 139: 1-21

Beattie, G. & Shovelton, H. (2002)
What properties of talk are associated with the generation of spontaneous iconic hand gestures?
British Journal of Social Psychology 41: 403-417

Beattie, G. & Shovelton, H. (2002)
An experimental investigation of some properties of individual iconic gestures that affect their communicative power.
British Journal of Psychology 93: 179-192

Beattie, G. & Shovelton, H. (2002)
Lexical access in talk: a critical consideration of transitional probability and word frequency as possible determinants of pauses in spontaneous speech.
Semiotica 141: 49-71

Beattie, G. & Shovelton, H. (2001)
An experimental investigation of the role of different types of iconic gesture in communication: a semantic feature approach.
Gesture 1: 129-149

Lee, V. and Beattie, G. (2000)
Why talking about negative emotional experiences is good for your health: A micro-analytic perspective.
Semiotica 130: 1-81

Beattie, G. & Shovelton, H. (2000)
Iconic hand gestures and the predictability of words in context in spontaneous speech.
British Journal of Psychology 91: 473-492

Beattie, G. & Shovelton, H. (1999)
Mapping the range of information contained in the iconic hand gestures that accompany spontaneous speech.
Journal of Language and Social Psychology 18: 438-462

Beattie, G. & Shovelton, H. (1999)
Do iconic hand gestures really contribute anything to the semantic information conveyed by speech? An experimental investigation.
Semiotica 123: 1-30

Beattie, G. & Coughlan, J. (1999)
An experimental investigation of the role of iconic gestures in lexical access using the tip-of-the-tongue phenomenon.
British Journal of Psychology 90: 35-56

Lee, V. & Beattie, G. (1998)
The rhetorical organisation of verbal and nonverbal behavior in emotion talk.
Semiotica 120: 39-92

Beattie, G. & Coughlan, J. (1998)
Do iconic gestures have a functional role in lexical access? An experimental study of the effects of repeating a verbal message on gesture production.
Semiotica 119: 221-249

Aboudan, R. & Beattie, G. (1996)
Cross-cultural similarities in gestures: The deep relationship between gestures and speech which transcends language barriers.
Semiotica 111: 269-294

Beattie, G. & Aboudan, R. (1994)
Gestures, pauses and speech - an experimental investigation of the effects of changing social context on their precise temporal relationships.
Semiotica 99: 1-40

From a contemporary psychological perspective, talk is seen as a complex multichannel activity which involves the expression of thoughts and ideas through both language and expressive movement, and particularly through the expressive movements of the hands

Geoff Beattie