Different but Equal: Communication between the Sexes

By Kay E. Payne | Go to book overview

9

Nonverbal Gender Communication

Men walk from the knee, women from the hip. Men strike matches toward themselves, women away. Men dress to look like other men, women to look unique within the current fashion. Men look at their fingernails by cupping their palms and bending their fingers toward themselves, women extend their fingers palms outward. Men nag their wives for what they do, women nag their husbands for what they don’tdo.

Kenneth Colby

Many researchers suggest that differences exist in the nonverbal communication behavior of males and females (Knapp, 1978, 1980; Dittmann, 1972; Burgoon & Saine, 1978; Malandro & Barker, 1983; LaFrance & Mayo, 1978). Birdwhistell (1983) classifies these differences by three categories: primary, relating to hereditary characteristics of male and femaleness; secondary, relating to modeling or observation of same-sex role models; and tertiary, relating to popular explanations of reinforcement or conditioning for male or female behavior, such as rough-and-tumble play for boys and cuddling and nurturing for girls. With regard to primary nonverbal characteristic differences, males and females develop different bone structures determining their walk, gestures, and other nonverbal behavior. The shapes of male and female bodies also help to determine some of our nonverbal presentations. For example, larger breasts in women may influence their posture, and a larger shoulder span for men may influence theirs. With regard to secondary nonverbal characteristic differences, children

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