The Psychology of Linguistics and Body Language

What is Linguistics?

Linguistics is the study of human language and is broken down into several smaller fields. It studies grammar, semantics, pragmatics, word composition and syntax. While related to the field of phonetics, which covers sounds of the human language, it is different. Fields of linguistics include evolutionary, historical, sociolinguistics, psycholinguistics, neurolinguistics, language acquisition, discourse analysis and pragmatics. Psycholinguistics is the psychological study of language.

  • Linguistics Overview This article provides an example of language use and how it is studied. 
  • Historical Linguistics This site is a resource page for several websites that provide information and examples of historical linguistics.
  • Sociolinguistics This article provides an introduction to this study of linguistics.
  • Pragmatics This article describes social language use and how it is studied.

What is Body Language?

Body language is any type of non-verbal communication. Unlike linguistics, a mostly conscious act, humans display and interpret body language at a subconscious level. Psychologists study body posture, gestures and expressions to determine the moods and thoughts of humans. The study of body language also provides a look into the subconscious mind, allowing psychologists to better understand how human’s communicate, and how their words differ from their actual meaning.

Psychology of Eye Contact

The study of eye contact, also known as oculesics, is used in psychology and unconsciously by society to determine to mood and personality of a person. There are several nuances in the psychology of eye contact, most easily understood by an initial meeting between strangers. Making eye contact when being introduced to someone sends an unconscious signal to the other person that you hold him or her in high regard and are confident. However, when taken to the extreme of staring, which is prolonged eye contact, this can make others feel threatened or held in contempt, sending the opposite message. Psychologists have also determined a pattern to tell when a person is lying, which is fairly accurate. This study of eye contact is based on the eye movements a person makes before they make a statement, and where their eyes are when speaking.

  • Eye Contact and Negotiations This article describes how eye contact can have a huge impact on business dealings.
  • Eye Contact and Autism This article describes the controversy behind forcing those with autism to make eye contact, and how making that eye contact may have good or bad effects.
  • Eye Contact Rules A list of questions that can help students to realize the unconscious rules and ideas they have of eye contact.
  • Eye Contact and a Baby’s Brain This article discusses how eye contact is a good indication of healthy brain development in babies.
  • Study of Smiling and Eye Contact This study researched the effect eye contact had in a retail setting.
  • Eye Contact and Oral Presentations Describes how eye contact aids in public speaking.
  • Eye Contact Describes how the lack of eye contact can be indicative of another problem, showing just how engrained eye contact is in human nature.

Psychology of Language

Psycholinguistics studies how human beings come up with and use language. This provides deeper knowledge into how the human brain functions and how the use of language and emotion is closely tied together. This study can also provide greater knowledge of human development, both socially and emotionally. Determining what words where used, and in what context, hundreds of years ago and comparing those words to the one’s used today can provide psychologists of a greater idea of where humans have been and what direction they may be taking.

Miscellaneous Resources