As research in psychology continues to grow, it becomes necessary to divide existing areas of concentration into areas of greater specialization. The proliferation of research produces a body of literature that is simply too large for those interested in the area. It is often useful, at the same time, to draw together findings from previous subdivisions and integrate these with information from related areas. This reorganization creates a new synthesis and the development of a new area that is both larger and more narrow than the original.
The area of nonverbal communication seems to have reached this point of research saturation. The early research focused primarily on facial expressions and body movements used to regulate speech, but during the seventies the area expanded enormously to include almost every aspect of nonverbal behavior. At the same time researchers tended to specialize by focusing on channels of communication, such as spatial behavior, eye contact, or vocal cues. This tendency to specialize was necessary in order to probe deeper and deeper into forms of nonverbal communication, but it also meant that areas tended to be cut off from each other and frequently focused on different problems. Researchers in the area of eye behavior, for example, tended to concentrate on the use of the eyes in establishing dominance and regulating speech, while those studying personal space have examined cross-cultural differences in spacial behavior and reactions to spatial invasion.
This fragmentation of research has often meant that researchers in newer areas began to study and resolve issues that have already been worked through in more established areas. The innateness of facial expressions, for example, has been quite well established using a variety of criteria, but many . . .