1. What was the name of the show that you watched? Was the nonverbal communication continuous? Describe specific examples of the channels of nonverbal communication (as discussed in your textbook) that you observed. Did you notice more when the sound was off? Why or why not?
I watched the first episode in the forth season of sitcom “The Big Bang Theory”. The nonverbal communication was present at all times during the show, but its flow was not continuous. When the sound was turned off, it became obvious that there are short intermissions between the acts of both verbal and nonverbal communication. Normally, those periods were filled with the sound of laughter, but it made the communication occasionally appear unnatural during muted watching. There are many examples of nonverbal communication in the scene at the restaurant between Penny, Sheldon and Amy. Penny’s disapproval for Sheldon is expressed during the scene in several ways: facial expressions, prolonged staring at him and gesticulation with hands. Many more nonverbal signs are noticed with the sound turned off, as well as clear differences in nonverbal expression of various characters. I guess the reason is that more attention is directed towards nonverbal expressions when we cannot hear what characters are actually saying.
2. Was the nonverbal communication confusing? Was it ever in conflict with the verbal message? Why or why not? Describe specific examples.
In this show nonverbal communication seems really simple and overemphasized, yet it obviously plays an important role in humorous situations. Sometimes it is indeed in conflict with the verbal message but it becomes obvious only when the same scene is watched without the sound. For an example it is typical in scenes with interpersonal tensions between Penny and Sheldon like the one in the hallway when they discuss Penny’s sexual history. They both often smile during the most tensed parts of their argument. Conflicting verbal messages seem more frequent with more caricatured characters, like Sheldon.
3. Chapter 6 in your textbook indicates that nonverbal messages are influenced by rules and norms from society, culture, gender, age, and other factors. What were the rules or norms that guided the nonverbal communication messages you observed? How were the rules and norms displayed? Describe specific examples.
In the opening scene when Sheldon’s views of sexuality are discussed with everyone present in the room it is obvious that Penny determines the physical distance between two of them during their conversation. She walks towards him and he leans back. Penny is a beautiful young woman who seems aware of her attractiveness. Sheldon is, on the other hand, a “geek” that seems very uncomfortable with the subject of their conversation. In real life, it is also typical that people more secure about their looks take control of nonverbal factors like distance and physical contact during conversation. It can often be observed when good looking girls talk to insecure boys.
4. Did the nonverbal communication convey emotions? Do you think the use of nonverbal communication elements to convey emotions was consciously part of someone's decision making? Why or Why not? Describe one example by referring to the channel of nonverbal communication that was used and how it impacted the message that was being sent.
It definitely conveyed emotions which is again best observed through Sheldon, because his character is created with highly unusual emotional response. His nonverbal emotional expressions are therefore often exaggerated when little emotions should be expected, and almost nonexistent when normally emotional topics are discussed in a verbal conversation. This is very obvious in the already mentioned opening scene, when Sheldon reveals that he and Amy are thinking about having a baby, while showing an obvious lack of facial expression. It is worth mentioning that the absence of usual nonverbal expressions can also be a strong statement of one’s emotional state.
5. During the "silent" minutes, did the nonverbal communication appear to increase or decrease the effectiveness of the interpersonal communication that was occurring? Why or Why not?
During muted watching, the role of nonverbal in interpersonal communication appeared to be very character-specific. Character of Penny, which is created like more or less everyday person, displayed nonverbal communication that seemed well adjusted to its verbal counterpart. With more “geeky” characters, the nonverbal signs were much less in tune with the verbal ones. This was especially true for most vivid character, Sheldon. Intensity of his nonverbal expressions are almost always contrasted to what one would expect if he focused on what Sheldon is saying at any particular moment. Nonverbal communication in this sitcom is obviously used to amplify humor.