Culture and Nonverbal Communication
(28 minutes)


Bunny-Ears Gesture

QUESTION: In the video A World of Gestures, people from all over the world demonstrate the remarkable diversity of international gestures. Can you guess the meaning of this Japanese gesture?

a. I'm scared like a bunny
b. I've been hearing things about you
c. I'm angry


The video "A World of Gestures: Culture and Nonverbal Communication" focuses on international differences in gestures, and cultural differences in nonverbal communication generally. As might be expected, this video is fascinating, provocative, and even outrageous. This video examines angry gestures, obscene gestures, friendly gestures, warning gestures, the development of gestures in children, gang gestures, secret gestures, and embarrassing gestures. Throughout, the emphasis is on how this powerful form of nonverbal communication varies across cultural and national boundaries.


Eye-Pulling Gesture

QUESTION: In A World of Gestures, this woman from France demonstrates this gesture. Can you try to guess what this French gesture means?

a. I don't believe you
b. I wish I hadn't seen that
c. I am looking at a very handsome man


Thumbs-Up Gesture

QUESTION: In A World of Gestures, we see this gesture performed by a woman from Iran. Can you guess what this Iranian gesture means?

a. Good luck to you
b. You will always be number one for me
c. "Screw You" (obscene)


A World of Gestures helps us understand the richness and power of cultural differences. The video also helps us answer several fascinating questions about gestures and nonverbal communication:

1. Is there a 'universal language' of gestures?

2. At what age do children first learn about gestures, and when do they become fluent at performing them?

3. Do all cultures have at least one obscene gesture?

4. Does the same gesture have radically different meanings in different cultures?

5. Can gestures serve as secret messages or as signals of group membership?

6. Do some cultures have a unique catgory of gestures--one that expresses an idea found in no other society?