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If You Don’t Like Texting, Here’s Some Good News For You

If You Don’t Like Texting, Here’s Some Good News For You

People who text frequently are more shallow, hedonistic, and do not strive towards moral goals, a new study shows.

The study was the result of an undergraduate thesis project conducted by Logan Annisette. The results were published in the article “Social media, texting, and personality: A test of the shallowing hypothesis“, which appeared in the February edition of the journal Personality and Individual Differences.

Kathryn Lafreniere, coordinator of the psychology undergraduate honors thesis program, says Annisette found a strong correlation between frequent texting and image-related concerns. Frequent texters were seen to strive towards goals related to appearance and hedonism.

“Where goals related to morality—like living life with genuine integrity and leading an ethical and principled life—those were negatively related,” Dr. Lafreniere says. “People espousing those ideals texted and used social media less frequently.”

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Texting participants did not appear to value or undertake self-reflection

Annisette and Lafreniere asked undergraduate students to rank dozens of life goals according to their significance to the individual student. What they found was that students who engaged in regular texting and social media normally valued things to do with image and hedonism. For example, they wrote: “I want to achieve the look I’ve always been after” or “I want to have an exciting lifestyle.”

The texting participants were less concerned with goals that related to morality and did not appear to value or undertake self-reflection.

The researchers cautioned that texting and social media involvement could make it more difficult for students to have meaningful friendships and could also have a negative effect on student’s grades.

“Whether it becomes an issue that needs to be dealt with or not is a matter of debate. But it’s an issue that demands our concern and poses a need for additional research,” said Annisette.

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Social Media might lead to shallow thinking

Lafreniere voiced concern over the fact that many of the students were receiving news about current events through social media.

“If [social media] is the way people are getting all their information about current events, that’s kind of a recipe for shallow thinking about that event,” said Lafreniere.

She said that this could lead to a superficial understanding of the world around us.

“One wonders if people are looking at headlines without clicking on the article and looking at anything more nuanced. It could be setting up a cycle where people are taking shortcuts to deep thinking about important topics in the world.”

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The Study

Annisette gained his inspiration for the study from the 2010 Pulitzer Prize-nominated book The Shallows by Nicholas Carr, a technology and culture critic. Carr proposed that short bursts of texting resulted in shallow thought and a decrease in the amount one engages in daily reflection.

In all, 149 students participated in the study. The students were asked to rank the importance of nearly 60 life goals. The breadth and subject matter of the questions ranged dramatically from “I want to have a really good sex life” to “I want to find a real purpose and meaning in life.”

Students were also presented with a “reflection questionnaire.” This questionnaire required them to agree or disagree with statements like “I love exploring my inner self” or “Contemplating myself isn’t my idea of fun.”

Reflections

Anisette notes that “I don’t find (social media) inherently evil or dangerous or problematic, but I argue that it’s not the best use of our time.”

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But Lafreniere believes that if you are texting continuously or always checking your social media accounts, you can probably afford to take a break.

“We want people to be more deeply reflective and take the time necessary to do that,” she said.

“People have to break that cycle of over-engagement with social media or texting,” she said. “If they’re always kind of looking at their phone they may be missing something, some deeper experiences that aren’t as shallow.”

Featured photo credit: Positive Moms via positivemomsmagazine.com

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Rebecca Beris

Rebecca is a wellness and lifestyle writer at Lifehack.

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Last Updated on January 15, 2021

7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

The popular idiomatic saying that “actions speak louder than words” has been around for centuries, but even to this day, most people struggle with at least one area of nonverbal communication. Consequently, many of us aspire to have more confident body language but don’t have the knowledge and tools necessary to change what are largely unconscious behaviors.

Given that others’ perceptions of our competence and confidence are predominantly influenced by what we do with our faces and bodies, it’s important to develop greater self-awareness and consciously practice better posture, stance, eye contact, facial expressions, hand movements, and other aspects of body language.

Posture

First things first: how is your posture? Let’s start with a quick self-assessment of your body.

  • Are your shoulders slumped over or rolled back in an upright posture?
  • When you stand up, do you evenly distribute your weight or lean excessively to one side?
  • Does your natural stance place your feet relatively shoulder-width apart or are your feet and legs close together in a closed-off position?
  • When you sit, does your lower back protrude out in a slumped position or maintain a straight, spine-friendly posture in your seat?

All of these are important considerations to make when evaluating and improving your posture and stance, which will lead to more confident body language over time. If you routinely struggle with maintaining good posture, consider buying a posture trainer/corrector, consulting a chiropractor or physical therapist, stretching daily, and strengthening both your core and back muscles.

Facial Expressions

Are you prone to any of the following in personal or professional settings?

  • Bruxism (tight, clenched jaw or grinding teeth)
  • Frowning and/or furrowing brows
  • Avoiding direct eye contact and/or staring at the ground

If you answered “yes” to any of these, then let’s start by examining various ways in which you can project confident body language through your facial expressions.

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1. Understand How Others Perceive Your Facial Expressions

A December 2020 study by UC Berkeley and Google researchers utilized a deep neural network to analyze facial expressions in six million YouTube clips representing people from over 140 countries. The study found that, despite socio-cultural differences, people around the world tended to use about 70% of the same facial expressions in response to different emotional stimuli and situations.[1]

The study’s researchers also published a fascinating interactive map to demonstrate how their machine learning technology assessed various facial expressions and determined subtle differences in emotional responses.

This study highlights the social importance of facial expressions because whether or not we’re consciously aware of them—by gazing into a mirror or your screen on a video conferencing platform—how we present our faces to others can have tremendous impacts on their perceptions of us, our confidence, and our emotional states. This awareness is the essential first step towards

2. Relax Your Face

New research on bruxism and facial tension found the stresses and anxieties of Covid-19 lockdowns led to considerable increases in orofacial pain, jaw-clenching, and teeth grinding, particularly among women.[2]

The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research estimates that more than 10 million Americans alone have temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ syndrome), and facial tension can lead to other complications such as insomnia, wrinkles, dry skin, and dark, puffy bags under your eyes.[3])

To avoid these unpleasant outcomes, start practicing progressive muscle relaxation techniques and taking breaks more frequently throughout the day to moderate facial tension.[4] You should also try out some biofeedback techniques to enhance your awareness of involuntary bodily processes like facial tension and achieve more confident body language as a result.[5]

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3. Improve Your Eye Contact

Did you know there’s an entire subfield of kinesic communication research dedicated to eye movements and behaviors called oculesics?[6] It refers to various communication behaviors including direct eye contact, averting one’s gaze, pupil dilation/constriction, and even frequency of blinking. All of these qualities can shape how other people perceive you, which means that eye contact is yet another area of nonverbal body language that we should be more mindful of in social interactions.

The ideal type (direct/indirect) and duration of eye contact depends on a variety of factors, such as cultural setting, differences in power/authority/age between the parties involved, and communication context. Research has shown that differences in the effects of eye contact are particularly prominent when comparing East Asian and Western European/North American cultures.[7]

To improve your eye contact with others, strive to maintain consistent contact for at least 3 to 4 seconds at a time, consciously consider where you’re looking while listening to someone else, and practice eye contact as much as possible (as strange as this may seem in the beginning, it’s the best way to improve).

3. Smile More

There are many benefits to smiling and laughing, and when it comes to working on more confident body language, this is an area that should be fun, low-stakes, and relatively stress-free.

Smiling is associated with the “happiness chemical” dopamine and the mood-stabilizing hormone, serotonin. Many empirical studies have shown that smiling generally leads to positive outcomes for the person smiling, and further research has shown that smiling can influence listeners’ perceptions of our confidence and trustworthiness as well.

4. Hand Gestures

Similar to facial expressions and posture, what you do with your hands while speaking or listening in a conversation can significantly influence others’ perceptions of you in positive or negative ways.

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It’s undoubtedly challenging to consciously account for all of your nonverbal signals while simultaneously trying to stay engaged with the verbal part of the discussion, but putting in the effort to develop more bodily awareness now will make it much easier to unconsciously project more confident body language later on.

5. Enhance Your Handshake

In the article, “An Anthropology of the Handshake,” University of Copenhagen social anthropology professor Bjarke Oxlund assessed the future of handshaking in wake of the Covid-19 pandemic:[8]

“Handshakes not only vary in function and meaning but do so according to social context, situation and scale. . . a public discussion should ensue on the advantages and disadvantages of holding on to the tradition of shaking hands as the conventional gesture of greeting and leave-taking in a variety of circumstances.”

It’s too early to determine some of the ways in which Covid-19 has permanently changed our social norms and professional etiquette standards, but it’s reasonable to assume that handshaking may retain its importance in American society even after this pandemic. To practice more confident body language in the meantime, the video on the science of the perfect handshake below explains what you need to know.

6. Complement Your Verbals With Hand Gestures

As you know by now, confident communication involves so much more than simply smiling more or sounding like you know what you’re talking about. What you do with your hands can be particularly influential in how others perceive you, whether you’re fidgeting with an object, clenching your fists, hiding your hands in your pockets, or calmly gesturing to emphasize important points you’re discussing.

Social psychology researchers have found that “iconic gestures”—hand movements that appear to be meaningfully related to the speaker’s verbal content—can have profound impacts on listeners’ information retention. In other words, people are more likely to engage with you and remember more of what you said when you speak with complementary hand gestures instead of just your voice.[9]

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Further research on hand gestures has shown that even your choice of the left or right hand for gesturing can influence your ability to clearly convey information to listeners, which supports the notion that more confident body language is readily achievable through greater self-awareness and deliberate nonverbal actions.[10]

Final Takeaways

Developing better posture, enhancing your facial expressiveness, and practicing hand gestures can vastly improve your communication with other people. At first, it will be challenging to consciously practice nonverbal behaviors that many of us are accustomed to performing daily without thinking about them.

If you ever feel discouraged, however, remember that there’s no downside to consistently putting in just a little more time and effort to increase your bodily awareness. With the tips and strategies above, you’ll be well on your way to embracing more confident body language and amplifying others’ perceptions of you in no time.

More Tips on How to Develop a Confident Body Language

Featured photo credit: Maria Lupan via unsplash.com

Reference

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