Systemic and analog communication: current advances
We live in the society of information and mass communication, but paradoxically, it "communicates" less and less in the current "advanced" Western civilization. If we want to respond to the need for communication between society and the people of that society, we must stop understanding communication as a mere transmission of information or messages.

People are in society immersed in a continuous flow of communication, and new models of understanding communication are necessary, if we want to achieve some prominence in that communicative network. In this study of, we will offer the current advances in systemic and analog communication so that you know what the current situation is.

Job Summary

In this paper, we first briefly expose some of the models of analysis of the communicative process. Next, we focus on the systemic model and make a brief presentation of the communication axioms of the Palo Alto school: the impossibility of not communicating, the different levels and codes of communication, the different ways of scoring the continuous process of communication, symmetric and complementary modes of relationship.

We continue with the exposition of paradoxical communication, double bond theory and therapeutic communication. Following the line of the Palo Alto School, we understand communication as a multidimensional reality that compromises different levels: conscious-unconscious, content-relationship, verbal-non-verbal, and digital-analog. From that perspective, we introduce ourselves in the analysis of nonverbal communication that Bateson and Mead (1942) began long ago.

We present some studies on the characteristics of the communicant and we immerse ourselves in the study of the most important functions that non-verbal communication fulfills, carrying out a review of the investigations that have been done on the subject. Finally, we show the results of some research on the environment where communicators are located and on communication through the image.

New communication models

The new communication models place the classical concepts of the communication field in a new context. Thus, for example, the concept of "noise" will not be interpreted as a distortion of the transmission of the message, as is the case in the mass communication model; "noise" is not something to be rejected, but something that can and should be interpreted, since it can provide us with unknown and hidden information about the issuer; Communication will not be understood as mere transmission of messages, but as the process of creation and negotiation of meanings that occurs between people in interaction.

As Berlo (1969) would say, communication is not transmitting meanings, since these cannot be transmitted; what can be transmitted is the message, but the meaning given to the message is negotiated between people in interaction in society; It is up to the caller to plan the communicative act and adapt it to his interlocutor; communication participants have to adjust and adapt mutually; It is that work of adjustment that is at the heart of communication.

Do not try to understand communication from the point of view of traits, expectations, motivations and roles of communicators who are isolated, since communication is not an interaction between individuals, but a relationship between members of a group or community

The individual does not communicate; what it does is participate in communication and be a participant in communication (Birdwhistell, 1959). Hence, to understand the communication process, regularities and non-arbitrariness of the relational network are more important than the intentions of individuals. In this way of understanding communication, we agree with the Palo Alto School, and specifically with the systemic vision of Watzlawick (1995), who tries to describe the regularities, restrictions and norms of the communicative process, instead of trying to explain them from the perspective of the individual.

The mathematical model of information theory

Shannon and Weaver (1949) developed the mathematical theory of communication. They were pioneers, along with Wiener (1948), in the inclusion of the word "communication" in the scientific vocabulary. However, Wiener's model and that of his disciple Shannon differed. Wiener's circular cyber model accounts for the informational feedback that the receiver returns to the sender of the message; Thanks to this feedback, the sender can adapt his communication resources to the recipient of the message.

However, the communication model proposed by Shannon is known as a linear model, since it focuses on the process of information transmission. At one end of the transmitting chain, the message source encodes the message through the sender and sends it through the channel; at the other end, the receiver decodes the message and leaves it in the hands of the recipient. The main concern of this model is to make the message suffer the least possible deformation.

In this model, information is considered as an abstract statistical magnitude, that is, as a measure of the freedom of choice of a message. Before beginning to receive the message, everything was uncertainty in the receiver, and as soon as he begins to receive certain fragments of the message, the probability of appearance of other fragments is reduced, while the probability of appearance of other message fragments increases. For this statistical model, semantic aspects are unimportant, since it is the statistical structure that predicts the probability of the appearance of a particular word. The unit of information would mean the freedom of choice between two alternative messages and the amount of information would be measured by the logarithm of possible alternatives.

The probability of occurrence of a signal depends on the repertoire of signals in this mathematical model. Existing and in which the concepts of information and entropy are interrelated. All that reduces the initial uncertainty of the receiver would be information, while entropy would mean the degree of randomness. The information would account for the level of organization of the system; entropy would be the indicator of the level of disorganization of the system. The information would be considered as negentropia or negative entropy. This communication model does not take into consideration the psychological factors of the participants in the communication; therefore, set aside the feedback. Consider communication as a unidirectional event, forgetting the negotiation and consensus aspects in the message. Even so, this mathematical model did not only extend to engineers and physicists, but also to sociologists.

Mucchielli's vision

Mucchielli (1998) places the mathematical theory of information between positivist models, together with the “marketing” model and the “two-level” communication model. The “marketing” model is a very standardized model and its main concern is to solve marketing management problems. The “two levels” communication model was used in the US in the mid-s. XX to multiply the influence of the mass media in election campaigns; according to this model, the media do not directly influence people, but through "opinion leaders"; these will act as intermediaries before their groupmates; the message should be addressed to the opinion leader, since he will be responsible for transmitting it to the rest of the group members.

The semiotic model (Peirce, 1978)

It is a model that is not concerned with transmission, but with interpretation and meaning. The sign has no meaning in itself: it receives a meaning according to the interpretations of the sender and the receiver. It often happens that the meaning given by the sender to the message is correct only for him; or that the meaning given by the receiver is correct only for him.

However, for there to be communication, the interpretations of one and the other must be similar, since it is the only way to share a unified meaning. We speak of denotative meaning to refer to consensual meaning, and connotative meaning to refer to individualized and idiosyncratic meaning.

Gerbner's model

Shannon and Weaver considered the effects produced by the perceptions and attitudes of the communicators as noise; For Gerbner these effects are basic elements of communication. The caller is always deciding on the part of the information that he is going to send, about the channel he is going to use, as well as about the code he is going to use. To predict the type of message that the caller is going to send, the recipient must know how the caller perceives the events and what he considers significant in those events.

This way of perceiving, the events and what they consider significant in them influence when choosing the transmission channel. In addition to the sender, the receiver also has to decide what information he will select and how he will interpret it. A message can be sent and received perfectly, and even so, the sender and the receiver can give it a different meaning, due to their different perceptions, attitudes and interpretative contexts.

The role theory model

Role is the organized model of behaviors derived from the position that an individual occupies in social interaction. The messages and their interpretation depend largely on the roles. It is necessary to know how other people perceive our role or how we perceive the role of others in order to predict the form and content of our communication.

It may happen that the role determines the type of communication; it may be the way of communicating that determines the role; typically, the roles and ways of communicating are adapted and mutually influenced.

The dynamic model

Communication is the expression of an internal structure and dynamic processes that occur inside the subject. Superficial expressions are samples of personality, motivations or internal needs.

We place within this model the psychoanalytic theories of Freud, Jung, Adler, Reich, Klein, Lacan ... Subliminal communication is based on this model and research on subliminal perception.

The phenomenological model

Communication is not an expression of internal desires or impulses. The objective of communication is the expression of experiences and conscious experiences of the subject. In phenomenological psychotherapy, the patient tries to revive, describe, understand and interpret their experiences in a climate of empathy. We can consider Carl Rogers (1951) as the most significant representative of the phenomenological current.

The systemic model of the Palo Alto School

Among the systemic communication models, Mucchielli (1998) includes the sociometrist’s model of Jacob L. Moreno (1954), the transactional model of Eric Berne (1950) and the systemic model of Palo Alto to which we will give a specific treatment in this article. The sociometrist’s model analyzes the exchange network of a group. The transactional paradigm analyzes the implicit communications that occur in interpersonal relationships; according to this model, people process verbal and nonverbal messages at three levels: rational level, affective level and normative level, and according to the position occupied by the sender or receiver, we find symmetric, complementary and crossed messages exchanges.

According to the Palo Alto School, communication is based on relationships and interaction, and not on individuals; within the communicative system, messages receive one or another meaning depending on the context. As for personality disorders, these are not analyzed from an individual perspective, but as communication disorders between the individual and the environment.

Already in the nineteenth century, there was talk of the notion of system in the field of economics; in the mid-twentieth century, the pioneers of cybernetics, computer science and robotics gave new impetus. In 1950, a systemic approach was made to associate radars and computers from the perspective of artificial intelligence. In 1952, Bateson initiated the Palo Alto communication research project, with the intention of applying Wiener's research to cultural processes.

In 1954, Lufwig von Bertalanffy unveiled the General Systems Theory. According to that theory, the system is understood as a set of elements that are in interaction, so that the variation of one of those elements influences all other elements of the system. Systems theory, in addition to biological and mechanical systems, also encompassed human relationships; hence, the interrelation between individuals from a systemic point of view began to be studied. To understand group phenomena, the whole system must be analyzed, and not just the individual features. The traditional approach explained the interaction based on individual traits, expectations and motivations. It was a monadic and individualistic vision.

In the systemic view, the field of research is the interrelation between individuals, so that individuals "do not communicate" but "participate in communication." It goes from a linear and causal logic to a dialectical and circular logic: the effects of a variable act again on the original variable. Communication is a process of creating meanings between people who are in interrelation. It is not about transmitting meanings, since these cannot be transmitted. The messages can be transmitted, but the meanings are in the people who are using those messages and not in the messages themselves.

The meaning of the message is something that is constructed in a predictable way; if it were not predictable, there could be no communication. However, at the same time it is a complex process of coordination that requires planning and adjustment between the interlocutors.

Understanding in the systemic model

For the systemic model, the understanding of any action or of any phenomenon is a function of the contextual framework in which it is placed; the field of observation should cover the entire context. However, when the human being perceives the environment, what he perceives are the differences, and the differences are not objective things, but relations between things and abstractions. Watzlawick establishes a parallel between the mathematical concept of function or variable and the psychological concept of relationship. The variables have no meaning of their own, and achieve their significance in their network of relationships.

The relationships between the variables lead us to the concept of function, and this is applicable to the field of psychology, since the human mind works by abstraction of relationships. When we live a network of relationships, we experience those relationships in different circumstances and come to an abstraction similar to the mathematical concept of function. The core of our perceptions is in the functions, and not in the objects. In the same sense, the systemic vision places more emphasis on the restrictions and non-arbitrariness of the communicative process than on the communicant's intentions.

Watzlawick (1995) does not give much importance to intentionality when it comes to deciding whether there is communication. However, from the perspective of Wiener (1948), for there to be communication it is necessary to give a conscious will of the issuer and a satisfactory message. When Watzlawick describes the five axioms of interpersonal communication, it begins with "the impossibility of not communicating."

The person cannot be without communicating, since when another person enters his or her perceptual field, any activity or lack of activity takes the message value. When a person behaves non-arbitrarily before two or more people, we are facing a communication process. From this point of view, Watzlawick (1963) understands schizophrenia as an attempt to remain uncommunicated or to escape the commitment of communication.

That is why he tries to use ambiguous, incomprehensible and equivocal language. Nevertheless, since even ambiguity, error, silence and immobility are modes of communication, the efforts made by the schizophrenic for not communicating are wasteful.

Event Sequence Score

The axiom corresponding to the "Score of the sequence of events" was invented by Benjamin Lee Whorf (1956) and assumed by Bateson and Jackson. According to that axiom, to organize a sequence of communicative interactions it is necessary to establish a scoring system. Thus, a continuous and natural process can be divided into separate and arbitrary units. The nature of the relationship will depend on the score that each participant makes of the sequence of communications; Thus, the lack of agreement on how to rate the sequence of events is the source of many communication conflicts. To overcome these conflicts, we will have to leave the cause and effect dynamic and learn to communicate.

In all communication the informational or content aspect and the relational or commitment aspect can be distinguished .In other words, human communication has different levels of abstraction: denotative (of content), metalinguistic, met communicative (of relationship). To solve the communication problems, the different levels of communication must be taken into account. If the levels of abstraction are confused, paradoxes of Russell's type may occur. Often, attempts are made to solve at the content level problems that are of the relational level, and when the content level discrepancy has been overcome, the relational discrepancy can be further exacerbated. It is necessary to learn to differentiate the two levels and to metacommunicate, since pathological relationships can be interpreted as symptoms of the inability to metacommunicate.

For communication, the sender and the receiver must use a common code. The communication encompasses two types of codes: a code of digital characteristics (words) and a code of analog characteristics (gestures, language, postures). Digital communication refers to the content of the interactions, corresponds to the logical, conscious, content level, and uses arbitrary symbols. While analog communication corresponds to the relationship, it is intuitive and escapes control of the will. The human being is able to use the two codes to communicate.

Analog messages are usually ambiguous: they can have different and often incompatible digital interpretations. Digital interpretations that are incompatible with analogical propositions are a source of conflict in relationships. According to Watzlawick (1995), analog messages are propositions made about future relationship norms: love, hate, and struggle; Therefore, it is the others who will give determined meanings to these propositions.

Dynamic balance

G. Bateson published in 1936 the work Naven , whose name comes from the name of a ceremony of the Iatmul tribe of New Guinea. According to Bateson, in any interactional situation a dynamic equilibrium occurs between the processes of differentiation and the processes contrary to differentiation. In symmetric differentiation, the behavior of one person is a reflection of the behavior of another person: it responds to the attack with the attack, to the competition with the competition.

In the complementary differentiation, one of the participants adopts the position of superiority, and the other the inferior complementary position. All communicative interactions are symmetric or complementary, based on equality or difference. The symmetry and complementarity are not in themselves good or bad, normal or abnormal. They are only two categories of communicative interrelation. The two must be present, alternating and in different fields.

It is possible, and even convenient, for two communicators to relate sometimes symmetrically and sometimes complementary. Complementary cismogenesis neutralizes symmetric, and symmetric, complementary.

Paradoxical communication

Paradoxical communication communicates at the same time two incompatible contents. If a Cretan said, "All Cretans are liars," we would be faced with a paradoxical statement, because it can only be true if it is not true. Watzlawick (1995), after analyzing logical-mathematical paradoxes, paradoxical definitions and pragmatic paradoxes, shows the consequences of paradoxes in human interaction, based on Bateson's book "Toward a Theory of Schizophrenia" (1956), Jackson, Haley and Weak land. The way of communicating with schizophrenic patients can be considered as the response given to the contradictory orders of the parents.

The characteristics of the relationship between the child and the parents of schizophrenic families can be included under the name of “double bond”. The necessary conditions for the “double bond” to occur are the following: two or more people have intense complementary relationships, relationships on which their physical and / or psychological survival depends; in that context a contradictory order is sent to the victim, and he is threatened with punishment if he does not comply with the order; the contradictory order is not something that happens in isolation and incidentally, but something that happens in a habitual way; and the person who receives the contradictory order cannot metacommunicate about the message, or cannot escape the framework established by the message.

When these types of orders become habitual expectations in a person's childhood, what happens is not an isolated wound, but a permanent model of interaction. It is that model of communication that is schizophrenic and schizophrenic. Therefore, the pathogenicity of the double bond cannot be understood in terms of cause and effect. The double bond does not create schizophrenia; it is schizophrenia that responds to the pattern of a special communication.

In therapeutic communication, it is taken into account that the world of communication is the world of perceptions and meanings. Therefore, to change the behavior you should not try to change the behavior itself; what needs to be changed is the perception that the subject has of the context of the behavior. Therapeutic communication has to overcome the usual advice, such as, "you have to be kind to each other", "be spontaneous" etc.

Behavior change is not a matter of will. To think that the person who has a problem can choose between health and disease by pure will is nothing more than the illusion of alternative. The symptom is not something that depends on one's will, but something that arises involuntarily and autonomously. Therefore, symptomatic behavior arises spontaneously from within and escapes the patient's will.

Two kinds of change in the system

Bateson distinguishes two kinds of change: the change of internal factors to the system and the change of the system itself. The first kind of change ensures the continuity of the system: it makes changes so as not to change anything fundamental. In the second class of change the premises of the system, context and framework are changed; For this type of change, systemic therapy will use paradoxical techniques such as prescribing symptoms; the patient is asked to continue behaving as he has done so far; Instead of asking him to overcome the symptom, he is told to maintain the symptomatic behavior as it is.

When the therapist gives that order to the patient, he is demanding something that until now was spontaneous in him. Through a paradoxical order, a change in behavior is forced: the symptomatic behavior stops being spontaneous, is placed at the therapist's orders and leaves the framework of the symptomatic game. When prescribing the symptom, both the symptom of the designated patient and the symptomatic symptoms and behaviors of the family are positively connoted, so that resistance does not arise. Negatively connoting the symptom and symptomatic behaviors would be a bet in favor of change.

However, for a system homeostasis is as important as change. In addition, if the therapist made a clear commitment to change, it would reinforce the tendency for family stability. Therefore, the therapist must disguise the transformation and present it as homeostasis, making a bet in favor of continuity. When the therapist positively connotes the patient's symptom, it is presented as necessary. Saying that the patient fulfills a necessary and logical role and functions, the therapist wants to take away from the patient the control he exercises over his family's relationships.

Saying that his behavior is logical and voluntary, he considers it as dependent on the patient's self-determination. When the patient improves, the therapist interprets it as aggravation. Before the manifest improvement of the patient, the family claims the improvement, but the therapist makes a strategic disqualification of the improvement. The therapist becomes responsible for the family's homeostasis and relieves the weight of the family. While the patient and the therapist lose their central position, family members gain their zone of autonomy, getting the family to disconnect from the therapist.

Bateson and Palo Alto Project

The foundations of the Palo Alto School are found in the "Bateson Project" and in the foundation of the Mental Research Institute and the Brief Therapy Center of the 50s and 60s of the last century. Based on these fundamentals, various trends have developed the constructivist perspective of Paul Watzlawick, the structural current of Salvador Minuchin, the psychoanalytic tendency of Nathan Ackerman, the strategic approach of Jay Halley and the experiential perspective of Virginia Satir or Carl Whitaker. The influence of the Palo Alto School reached Europe in the 1970s.

Many European therapists studied in Palo Alto, Philadelphia or Washington. Mony Elkaïm opened the Institute for the Study of Human Systems in Brussels and Mara Selvini Palazzoli founded the Family Study Center in Milan. The psychiatric and psychoanalytic media showed some resistance against the systemic current. Some psychoanalysts tried to reinterpret systemic therapy from a Freudian point of view. Didier Anzieu, for example, acknowledges the Palo Alto School's great merit, since it has clarified the relationships between primary and secondary processes through its paradoxical therapy. Another effort to unite the systemic and Freudian perspectives was made by Jean G. Lemaire (1989).

One of the most discussed points is the relationship between the disappearance of symptoms and conflict resolution. Psychoanalysts will say that systemic try to make symptoms disappear without resolving internal conflicts. But systemic therapy does not go directly against symptoms, but to change the interactional context in which they are inserted. Psychoanalysis considers that the symptom is a conflict between unconscious desires and defense mechanisms; the systemic perspective, however, considers it as a message from the communication system.

As for the importance that should be given to the subject's history, the systemic perspective places emphasis on current relationships; on the other hand, the psychoanalytic perspective gives special importance to childhood experiences, although it resembles the systemic perspective when it gives them the role of dynamizers of therapy to transfert and counter-transfert. In psychoanalytic therapy, change without awareness of the reason for the symptom or insight is not conceived. For the Palo Alto School, awareness is neither necessary nor sufficient; the operating rules of the family system can be changed without being aware of the psychological meaning of the behavior.

The analytic therapy acts from the ideology of noninterference and accused systemic therapy using manipulative techniques. Systemic therapy is defended by saying that it uses suggestion to avoid defense mechanisms, and that if it suggests a behavior to the patient it is not so much to carry it out but to introduce new alternatives in the repertoire of patient behaviors. In addition, in systemic therapy, the same concept of "endless play" implies an active intervention of the therapist.

Non-verbal communication

As we have seen, the Palo Alto School distinguishes the level of content and the level of relationship in the communicative process. The level of content is related to the processing of information and enables the logical-unique interpretation of conscious communication. The level of relationship, however, is linked to analog processing and corresponds to the unconscious level that requires digital interpretations often incompatible with each other. The level of content deals with the informative aspect of communication, while the level of relationship would deal with the way information is given. In the digital code, there is no direct relationship between the code and the content of what is communicated; the union is arbitrary.

In analog communication, however, there is a direct connection between the code and the object of the communication. Often the peripheral communication that the sender makes in passing has more influence on the receiver, than the communication that is carried out directly and explicitly, resulting in the most authentic non-verbal communication for the receiver, because it seems to him to be something that has escaped involuntarily to the issuer. Digital and analog messages sometimes reinforce each other and in such cases, the message of the sender is considered authentic.

In many other cases, they send us conflicting messages; in those cases, the analog messages weaken, change direction or cancel out what the digital message said. In human relationships, to correctly receive a message and make a proper digital interpretation of it, it is necessary to know the records of analog communications.

Interpersonal communication

Inter-personal communication is a multifunctional and multidimensional reality. Nonverbal cues are indispensable for encoding and decoding verbal messages, but they are also carriers of messages in themselves. The most important functions of nonverbal communication are these: show intimacy and adherence, give support, show control and power, conceal deception, manage identity and impressions, structuring conversation and expressing emotions.

According to Ekman and Friesen (1969), non-verbal actions repeat, underline, reinforce, illustrate or contradict what is said verbally. According to Ricci Bitti and Poggi (1991) and Scherer (1980), non-verbal cues fulfill the syntactic, semantic and pragmatic functions. Syntactic function: divide, punctuate and synchronize the flow of speech (Scherer, 1980). Semantic and pragmatic function: symbolic behaviors that have a direct translation (emblems); gestures that clarify the verbal flow (illustrators); behaviors to manage the conversation shifts (regulators); autistic behaviors such as scratching or rubbing (adapters); attitudes, gestures and contacts that show emotional states; messages that define interpersonal relationships (Burgoon and Hale, 1984; Ekman and Friesen, 1969).

Within kinetic communication, proxemic, haptic, communication through odors, communication by body appearance and the different media we use to create impressions on others deserve an important place; Clothing, hair, makeup, tattoos and jewelry are worth mentioning.

The importance of communicating

Watzlawick said that the human being cannot be without communicating (1995). If the receiver considers that a sender's behavior is a message, the sender's behavior will receive the meaning of a communication; from this perspective, it will be the receiver who converts the behavior into a message, and all nonverbal behavior can become communication. If the issuer's perspective is adopted, the actions that the issuer consciously makes to communicate will constitute communication; but that to be communication the behavior must be carried out intentionally is not something that all researchers accept (Ekman and Friesen, 1969; Knapp, 1984).

Leaving aside the perspectives of the receiver and the sender, we can adopt the perspective of the message (Burgoon, 1994); this posture pays attention to behavior; focuses non-verbal behaviors that make up the code system accepted by society; if a behavior is usually carried out with intention, and if the sender and the receiver give it a meaning, it can be considered as a message, even if sometimes it is done unconsciously; but if the sender and the receiver accept that the conduct has been done without intention, it will not be communication. The sender and the receiver negotiate the meaning in the context of the interaction (Stamp and Knapp, 1990). In the message orientation, it is assumed that non-verbal communication is organized as a coded system and works according to standards.

The verbal aspect of communication

When communication has been studied, until almost the twentieth century, it has often been emphasized above all its verbal aspect. In the second half of that century, research on nonverbal communication becomes important. Thus, according to Birdwhistell (1955), between 60-65% of inter-personal communication passes through the nonverbal channel; According to Mehrabian and Wiener (1967), 93% of the communication goes through that channel. According to a meta-analysis by Philpott (1983), collected by Burgoon (1994), 31% of the communication goes through the verbal channel. The researchers soon began to clarify these initial statements.

The confidence placed in verbal or nonverbal channels could change according to some variables. Thus, adults relied more on nonverbal communication, and children, on verbal. However, the fact that adults relied more on non-verbal communication was mostly in the following situations: work conversations, leadership evaluation, attitude expression, judgments about first impressions and therapeutic sessions (Burgoon, 1985; Burgoon, Buller and Woodall, 1989).

Women relied more than men did on visual information (Noller, 1985; Rosenthal, Hall, DiMatteo, Rogers and Archer, 1979). The sex variable aside, different individuals have permanent biases in relation to their greater confidence in one or the other channel: some rely on nonverbal channels; others rely on verbal expressions. Even so, whatever the biases, the general tendency is to rely more on the non-verbal channel.

In any case, this tendency of adults to rely more on the non-verbal than on the verbal occurs especially when there is incongruity between the two channels; when there is congruence, similar trust is placed in the two channels. Hence, the incongruities between verbal and nonverbal are used for the detection of lies and deception. It should also be noted that verbal cues are more important in factual, denotative, objective, abstract and persuasive communication, while nonverbal communication becomes more important in affective and connotative messages.

Characteristics of the caller

According to the systemic position, communication is based on interrelationships and interactions, and personality disorders must be understood in the individual's network of interaction with the environment. Next, however, we will make a brief review of the research on the influence that the psychological and sociocultural features of the communicants have on communicative behavior.

On the other hand, we know that communication is a dynamic process that must be studied over time; but this is a condition that has rarely been fulfilled in the methodologies of communication research. In addition, although most of the relationships between people occur between acquaintances, most research on nonverbal communication has been conducted among strangers. It may be time to do more research on the communication of friends, acquaintances or family members.

Measure nonverbal communication

To measure the coding and decoding skills of nonverbal messages, Profile of Nonverbal Sensitivity (PONS, Rosenthal et al., 1979), Facial Affect Scoring Technique (FAST, Ekman, Friesen and Tomkins) have been used, among others. 1971) and the Interpersonal Perception Task (IPT, Archer and Costanzo, 1988). The meta-analysis of research on coding and decoding skills (Burgoon, 1994) has shown a correlation between the two types of skills.

These skills have been shown to be related to personality traits: the extroverts, those of high self-esteem, those who score high on self-monitoring, the dogmatic and the expressive have shown more ability to code; the gregarious, those who score low on Machiavellianism and non-dogmatists have been more skilled at decoding. The elderly lose the ability to detect emotions. Women, meanwhile, are usually more skilled at detecting nonverbal messages. According to Hall (1979), the greater attention of women is explained by their lower social power.

The alternative hypothesis to explain their greater ability is related to the different expressiveness of men and women: while women externalize emotions, men internalize them (Buck, 1979).

Jung and extraversion

One of the most studied characteristics of the caller has been related to extraversion. Jung and Eysenck believe that extraverted people are more open to relationships with objects. According to the review of the investigations by Giles and Street (Giles eta Street, 1994), extroverts look more at the interlocutor, but for a shorter time; as for the amount of speech, the extroverts speak more than the introverts, but they do not show their intimacy more than these; they talk more about general issues and are more accurate in expressing their emotions nonverbally; they pause shorter than introverts and speak faster; show more impulsivity and less cognitive activity.

The time spent in speaking is positively related to the anxiety trait of the communicator and negatively related to their anxiety state. On the other hand, anxiety leads to reducing the speed of speech and increasing the distance between the interlocutors. However, those who speak two languages (Hawaiian and English) show more reserve when speaking the standard language than when speaking their original non-standard language (Miura, 1985).

For Jung in introverts the subject, and in extroverts, sends the object. If we look at the two phases of Piaget's adaptation, assimilation and adequacy, assimilation would be predominant in introverts, that is, it would be the object that would adapt to the characteristics of the subject, while in extraverts, and adaptation would be predominant. , that is, the subject would tend to adapt to the characteristics of the object.

It is this second phase of adaptation that Mark Snyder underlines when he speaks of Self-Regulation of Expressive Behavior (Snyder, 1974). People control their expressions and hide or show their affections according to the demands of society. People who score high on Self-regulation are very sensitive in detecting the demands of the environment, and tend to change their expressions and behaviors accordingly.

Those who score low do not change their expressions and behaviors according to the demands of the environment, but according to the dictates of their interior. Those who score high on Self-regulation have a greater capacity to show their emotional state orally and by the expression of their face (Snyder, 1974), they take shorter turns when speaking, they tend to speak at the same time as the others (Dabbs, Evans, Hopper and Purvis, 1980) and begin to speak more frequently (Ickes and Barnes, 1977) than those who score low.

Adapt to the interlocutor

To be accepted in society and to have the communication channels open, sometimes it is the same subject that has to adapt to the characteristics of the interlocutor (self-regulation), but other times the subject tries to alter the way in which the interlocutor he sees him, managing the impressions he produces in him. When we see a person we immediately form a first impression of it, and from that first impression we know quite certain certain characteristics of the person (age, sex, appearance, profession ...) and with less accuracy other characteristics (attitudes, values, personality traits ...) (Kenny, Horner, Kashy eta Chu, 1992).

When the first impression is formed in a non-interactional context, static factors influence more; while more dynamic factors such as speech style, laughter or gaze are more important in situations of interaction (Burgoon, 1994). In the formation of first impressions of people, the following sources of bias must be mentioned: giving priority to what is visual and extending to other fields the attractiveness that a person has in a given field (halo effect).

This effect decreases when the relationship is between people who know each other or when there are other sources of information about the person. Among the non-verbal strategies for better self-presentation, the dramaturgical analyzes of Goffman (1959), the theories of impression management by Schlenker (1980) and Tedeschi (1981), Jones's theory of grace are worth mentioning (1964, 1973), the theory of strategic self-presentation of Jones and Pittman (1982) and the theory of breaking expectations of Burgoon and Hale (1988).

The different personal spaces

Personal space is not the same in all people. Introverts are placed at a greater distance than extroverts are, especially in intimate situations are. Those of high status occupy more space than those of low status and have more freedom of movement in that space. Teachers and men occupy more space than students and women, with their bodies and objects. People of different races are more distant than people of the same race. Middle class people are related at a distance greater than those from lower classes are.

In an investigation by Patterson (1968), the subjects had to assess the affection, aggressiveness, dominance, extraversion and intelligence of the people according to the relational distance. According to the results, people who related the most distance received the worst evaluations; meanwhile, the people who were closest were evaluated as warmer, more sympathetic and understanding. According to Gilmour and Walkey (1981), the personal space of combative prisoners is greater than that of others, especially the space around the body from the back.

According to Boorament, Flowers, Bodner and Satterfielden (1977), the personal space is expanding as one goes from minor criminals to criminals with blood crimes. Having to live in spaces that are too small can give rise to pathological characteristics (Chombart de Lauwe, 1959: According to Aiello, DeRisi, Epstein and Karlin (1977), subjects placed in situations of spatial saturation performed cognitive exercises worse. field of pathology, we see that autistic children avoid social contacts and move away from others, even the therapist.

Schizophrenics occupy a small space and hysterics exceed the limits of their space. Hyperactive and anxious children have less ability to be in saturated spaces; they increase their activity and create more problems.

According to the review by Giles and Street (1994) on the relationship between field dependence-independence and communication, field independents are better able to learn a second language. On the other hand, in women, field independence appears positively related to the amount of speech and negatively related to the number of words in each sentence. With regard to interfamily relations, field independence is positively related to the use of the word "I", and field dependence, to the use of the word "We."

Manipulation and deception

The issue of manipulation and deception is a subject that has been permanently studied in the field of communication. Therefore, this topic has been studied from different perspectives (Giles and Street, 1994). For example, those who score high on Machiavellianism manipulate others more in order to achieve their ends, and tend more to look at others in social relationships.

In court, for example, defendants who score high on Machiavellianism look more at the accuser, so that they appear more innocent. Even when they are going to lie, those who score high in Machiavellianism seem more reliable than those who score low (Geis eta Moon, 1981). But not all investigations go the same way. Thus, according to O'Hair, Cody and McLaughlin (1981), there are no differences between those of high and low Machiavellianism with respect to the filtering of nonverbal signals during deception.

In the review of the research on the sociodemographic, variables of the communicators Giles and Street (1994) have granted a privileged place to those carried out on the sex variable. Although women talk more in same-sex couples, in mixed couples men talk more. Even so, when the women of the couples are feminists, they speak more than the men do; in couples where women are not feminists, men talk more.

In groups, men speak more, and in mixed relationships men interrupt the conversation of the interlocutor more than women (Zimmerman and West, 1975; Eakins and Eakins, 1976); but Marche and Peterson (1993) found no such differences. On the other hand, women show a tendency to use more standard and exact language than men do. When it comes to conversation topics, men talk more about work, and women talk more about socio-emotional issues; Of course, in groups in which men and women are mixed, there is less talk of socio-emotional issues.

Non-verbal communication

With regard to nonverbal communication, men show a dominant behavior and women a dependent attitude (Henley, 1977). Men show more visual dominance, since they look more when they speak than when they listen (Dovidio eta Ellyson, 1985). Women are more expressive than men, listen more to the interlocutor, ask more and show more doubts when speaking and the interlocutor interrupts them more frequently.

Women show more attitudes and gestures of dependence (bow their heads, tilt them to one side, and open palms ...), get closer than men get when talking and adapt more to the interlocutor's interaction style

The prestige of languages

There are some languages, some dialects and some accents that have more prestige than others do; part of that prestige seems to be transferred to those who use those languages, dialects or accents to communicate. Thus, according to Bradac (1990), Giles, Hewstone, Ryan and Johnson (1987), the use of accents and languages of prestige and power increases the capacity attributed to the caller.

The reason for the non-use of a minority language and of less prestige by a communicant should not be sought in the greater or lesser level of knowledge of that language, but in the impression management strategies of the communicator. The seller who thinks that in a certain environment the use of a prestigious language will create a better impression of him in the clients; will tend to use that language instead of another one of less prestige and more minority. But to show more prestige and power one does not always tend to use a more prestigious language (Giles eta Street, 1994). In any language, you can use various strategies.

Thus, the elevation of voice intensity positively correlates with extraversion, dominance, sociability and emotional stability. On the other hand, speaking quickly increases the perceived capacity of the caller and speaking slowly decreases it; from this point of view there is an inverse relationship between the positive evaluation of the speaker and the extent of pauses in speech; it is the brief pauses that induce the speaker to attribute greater capacity. Even so, speaking slowly in difficult subjects, in intimate subjects or in formal contexts has a positive influence, because knowing how to adapt to the listener's rhythm is also valued positively.

Paralinguistic features

When mentioning the features of the caller, specifically the paralinguistic features (Giles and Street, 1994), we must not forget the characteristic concerning the pleasantness of the voice. Pleasant voice communicators are better valued, but that effect is even greater when the attractiveness of the voice and physical attractiveness come together. In the investigations carried out to study the relationship between the different somatotypes and the types of voice, it was to identify the somatotype of the interlocutor based on his voice; according to the results, it was more easily successful in the case of endomorphs and ectomorphs than in that of mesomorphs.

According to other investigations, the approximate age of the interlocutor can be known quite accurately, based on his voice. Also, listeners are very skilled at knowing a person's social class based on their voice; quickly identify a person's status through voice. Along the same lines, it is easier to know the way of being of a person by the intonation of his voice than by his explicit statements.

Finally, the intensity of the language increases the persuasiveness of that source that enjoys a lot of credibility, but decreases the persuasive capacity of the issuer that enjoys little credibility.

Psychological variables in nonverbal communication

From the perspective of nonverbal communication research, no decisive discoveries have been made about the characteristics of the communicator. The psychological variables that have been studied do not sufficiently explain the communicator's behavior. Many of these variables interact with sociodemographic variables (sex, age). Even when significant effects have been found, those effects would dissolve if powerful variables and sociodemographic variables were introduced into the design.

These investigations have not adequately studied the way communicants have to build their identity and the dimensions of the environment; they treat the communicants as if they were abstract social categories. On the other hand, they have evaluated the characteristics of the caller without relating to each other, in isolation. Perhaps the most interesting discoveries have been those corresponding to the evaluation of speech and linguistic attitudes: accent, speed, pauses, intensity, lexical diversity and verbal fluency. But the cultural context, the type of listener, the objectives of the interaction and the stage of the relationship should also be examined.


The research on communication psychology that we have mentioned here is concerned with events, control, causes and prediction of events. They analyze the events without giving importance to their meaning and meaning. However, in interpersonal communication the meanings and values are as important as the events, since the person tries to give meaning and meaning to the events. Giving priority to events over meanings and values may respond to a practical decision seeking explanations, but it is not very useful to predict events, if we do not know how we should act.

Therefore, investigations should not be limited to predicting and controlling. One of the fundamental concerns of the science of communication should be to expand the community's sense of the person and make sense of life's events. Communication researchers often analyze interpersonal communication from an objective, external and neutral perspective. However, it must be borne in mind that the meaning of the communication results from a negotiation between the source of the communication and the recipient, between the researcher and the subject.

The researcher builds changes and interprets what he observes, and gives it meaning and value. The science of communication that seeks causes often wants to explain events through control, abstraction, stability and order. But the purpose of interpersonal communication is not only to understand the world, but also to make sense of coexistence and life. And if we have to make sense of the human experience, in addition to the abstraction and control of science, we must take into account the narratives of the adventures, the changes and the ambiguities of relationships (Bochner, 1994).

Thanks to these stories, life takes on a new form. The narrator creates the new world where he has to live. From this point of view, there is currently a tendency to base the human sciences on narration (Bruner, 1986). For those who are in the perspective of the narrator, there is a unifying link between the narrator of the researcher and the narration of the reporting subject: the life of the researcher has an influence on his descriptions and interpretations; to understand the other you have to build on your experience. The same experimenter is also part of the data and autobiographical data is supported.

On the other hand, the symbols of their culture shape the experience of the researcher. In a word, the human sciences should not be limited to an objective, neutral and cold analysis; they have to get to participate in the communication.

Systemic and analog communication: current advances