{February 17, 2008}   5 types of kinesics

Hey guys i know we all got confused over the types of kinesics that was tested in quiz 2. Illustrators and regulators etc. So what i did was to surf the net and i came up with some examples of all these five types of kinesics used in communication. Hope it will help you gain a better understanding on this topic. read the examples below.

 Kinesics is the non-verbal behaviour related to movement, either of any part of the body, or the body as a whole. In short all communicative body movements are generally classified as kinesic. There are basically five different types of kinesics; emblems, regulators, illustrators, affective display and adaptors.


Emblems are non-verbal cues that have a verbal counterpart.For example, the British sign for Victory (forefinger and middle finger erect) symbolises the letter V, a sign for victory often seen painted onto house walls during WWII. However, the same movement may symbolise the number two in the US and may be seen as insulting in Australia.
Another example is the “ok” sign made by forming a circle with your thumb and forefinger and streching out the rest of the three fingers. This may be seen as an indication for zero or the number three in some countries. It is considered obscene in Australia though. Emblems as such are a bewildering array of different meanings. The list of possible interpretations and different meanings is, unfortunately, sheer endless. In short, emblems are signs used to refer to certain words. Its interpretation may vary across different cultures and groups of people.


Regulators are non-verbal signs that regulate, modulate and maintain the flow of speech during a conversation. These can be both kinesic, such as the nodding of a head, as well as nonkinesic, such as eye movements. They are often used as feedback to find out if one is clear of the instructions given or if the audience is intrested in the speech. Different cultures use different forms of regulators to show confusion or understanding of a certain information. For example, the white american students may use sounds such as “uh-huh” followed by nodding of the head to indicate understanding. However, the black american students use silence to show understanding. Therefore, it may lead to confusion for the white americans as to whether the black students understand what is being said. Regulators may also modulate the flow of speech when someone who wishes to interrupt with a point, he/she raises up his/her hand to indicate that he/she has something to say. This action is a form of regulator as it controls the flow of speech by an interuption and changes it flow towards a new speaker.


Illustrators are used more consistently to illustrate what is being said. For example pointing to something that you are discussing about. It reinforces what you are saying. Again, the usage and the amount of illustrators used is different from culture to culture. For example Latin cultures in general make more use of illustrators than Anglo-Saxon cultures. And again, Anglo-Saxon cultures make more use of illustrators than many Asian cultures. In Asian culture, the use of illustrators show lack of intelligence while the absence of illustrators, indicate lack of intrest in the Latin culture.

Affective Display:

Affective Displays are body, or more frequently facial, movements that display a certain affective state, i.e. emotions. A lack of such affective displays may well be understood as a lack of emotion, which in turn is probably wrong. Different cultures may practice the displaying of emotions differently. Although two people may be feeling just as angry, their display of anger may be totally different. One may blow up in the face while the other may use silence to show displeasure. Therefore the lack of display may not indicate the  lack of emotions.


Adaptors include postural changes and other movements at a low level of awareness, frequently made to feel more comfortable or to perform a specific physical function. Because adaptors are usually carried out a low level of awareness, they have been hailed as the secret to understanding what your conversation partner really thinks. A slumped posure indicates that you have low spirits, fatigued or that you feel inferior.Whereas, an erect posture shows high spirits and confidence. If you lean foward it implies that you are open and interested. Leaning away shows disinterest and defensiveness. Maintaining a rigid posture may mean that you are defensive, while a relaxed posture may translate to openess. Crossed legs and arms shows unwillingness to listen while uncrossed arms and leg indicates that you are approcahable.

I hope you have gotten a better view of this topic. It is actually not that difficult after all. Enjoy your weekend!


Ann says:

Hey Amarit,
I generally find your blog entries very sufficient and useful. They contain lots of interesting facts and i enjoy reading them. I find this particular entry good as you included all points which i have yet to understand completely. Good effort put in.:)

aditya says:

great job very helpful and useful….keep it up..

ayesha says:

its really a good content to increase knowledge…..

samantha says:

hey thanks for writing stuff like this very helpful. i am doing a project and i needed stuff like this. so thank you so much.

Precious says:

this was very helpful as i managed to complete all of my assignment regarding kinesics . thanx guyz…THUMPS UP

umesh bd says:

u have dealt with types of kinesics and at the same time, u have come up with the psychological reponses indicated by each of them.
very useful in knowing the global kinesics as a whole.
thanks a lot.

umesh bd says:

u have dealt with types of kinesics, and at the same time, u have come up with the psychological responses indicated by each of them.
very useful in knowing the global kinesics as a whole.
thanks a lot.

Nice content .but shud have included some more examples.

Ronnie says:

Quit good and educative esp on how to deal with body movements.

Isha says:

Hi. Was just looking for kinesics when stumbled on your blog. Gr8 site. Learnt alot. Thank you very much. Truly appreciated.

chrisbrownwifey says:

this really helps cu i have a group assignment.thnx in a million

[…] There are 5 different types of kinesics. […]

Thats great and l like it.

Rita says:

Whot a great a great job u did here

anju says:

very good information and useful too.

rex terol says:

thank you for this helps me finding the correct definition of terms.

kinesics is a must learn and practice concept fr all the age groups of students..

Am greatful for surf research,so useful to me,congrat.

Felix Karanja says:

Thanks a lot man. This really helped me in a paper I was writing

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