Body language and gestures: psychology and the difference between male and female gestures

Being able to read body language is one of the skills that will help you better understand the interlocutor. Sign language will tell about the attitude towards a person more than words. An observant interlocutor will catch the slightest changes in facial expressions, posture, and gestures. Knowing the difference between male and female gestures will help you understand them.

Usually it is difficult for people to restrain emotions, they will still find a way out. Depending on the temperament, this is expressed in different ways, but the facial expressions of even the most cold-blooded person will indicate a threat or hidden sympathy.

A bit about body language

Non-verbal communication skills can be used to analyze the interlocutor, to conduct more successful negotiations, if you deliberately show confidence and superiority. The ability to understand the meaning of facial expressions and gestures will help you pass for a perceptive and understanding person, capable of empathy. People love to be listened to and heard. Understanding body language will help people speaking in front of a large audience: speakers, teachers, politicians. The body language of the interlocutor will also tell you in a difficult situation: if you understand that the opponent is aggressive, you can change the tactics of the conversation – to present your thought softer or more authoritatively.

It is necessary to distinguish the concept of “body language” from “gesture language”. The first is unconscious behavior, the involuntary expression of thoughts and emotions. A restrained person knows how to control such behavior. The second is the conscious, purposeful transmission of a message using hand gestures, a conventional sign that has a clear meaning.

If you are in frequent contact with people from different countries, be aware of national differences in understanding the meaning of gestures. Different gestures can have different meanings: from approval and cordiality to extreme disrespect that will offend the interlocutor. In English-speaking countries, a ring of thumb and forefinger (“OK”) means “everything is fine.” However, in Brazil, this gesture symbolizes sexual desire, in France – a distrustful attitude towards the words of the interlocutor, and in Turkey and Greece – a hint of the interlocutor’s homosexual inclinations. Be careful both with the expression of emotions through hand gestures, and with the perception of them on yourself.

The difference between male and female gestures

Psychologists emphasize the difference between female and male gestures. This is due to the peculiarities of the female and male psyches and due to the difference in the nervous systems.

Women’s gestures and facial expressions are more open and passionate, they are easier to understand. Women are freer in the manifestation of emotions, however, unlike men, non-verbal communication is aimed at demonstrating weakness, insecurity, femininity and sensuality.

The language of the male body is more calm and confident, he will less often show bright emotions and imbalance. On the contrary, the goal is a demonstration of strength, self-confidence, power. Male behavior is more dominant, which is inherent in nature.

Let’s analyze the difference between female and male gestures using the examples of messages.

What can gestures tell us?

Sometimes, even in persuasive speech, we can feel some kind of catch. Intuition tells you that this person should not be trusted.

Hand gestures and body language – their meaning in different situations may not be the same.


The location is evidenced by the ” mirroring ” of gestures and facial expressions. We unconsciously repeat movements if the interlocutor impresses us. Watch also for the palms: open, upward palms show the disposition towards you. A favorable interlocutor will gradually reduce the distance between you, intuitively wanting to be closer to a pleasant person.


The interlocutor expresses distrust with monotonous actions: scratching his head, shrugging his shoulders. He will avoid direct eye contact and look at your hands, out the window, or at his plate. Resistance and unwillingness to contact can show crossed arms or crossed legs – a glaring physical barrier. The interlocutor will be difficult to persuade to his side.

Other signals:

  • Touching the mouth
  • clenched jaws
  • Frowning eyebrows (a sign of not only closeness, but also hidden aggression)

sexual interest

Scientists say that women are more likely to give such signals, while men are usually restrained in showing their emotions.

A long and deep look speaks especially clearly about sexual sympathy on the part of a man. If a man lingers for a long time and seeks to establish eye contact, be sure that he is interested in you. Also pay attention to his belt: a man clings his thumb to a belt or trouser pocket. It can also “shake off” non-existent dust particles from the shoulder or arm to show its confidence. Everything in a man’s body language will signal: he’s on the hunt!

A woman in such a situation behaves more coquettishly: she straightens her hair, tucks a lock of hair behind her ear, throws her hair back, laughs feignedly or opens her mouth languidly. The look will not deceive. A little timid, quickly changing its direction, enlarged pupils. Also, a woman may seek to expose some parts of the body, as if by chance: the neck, wrist, shoulder, or beautifully tilt the chest.

An expressive sign is stroking the interlocutor and tilting the head to the side when talking.

Beware, you are being lied to!

A smile does not always indicate openness. A sincere smile is paired with a warm look, small wrinkles should appear around the eyes. If the look is cold, know that you are being deceived.

Take a closer look:

  • smirk;
  • sudden slowing down of speech;
  • scratching the upper eyelid of the eye;
  • gesticulation in front of the face.


Aggression is signaled by a hard and raised voice, gestures. A person can “hack” with one palm on the other. This symbolizes that he wants to defend his position at all costs.

Evidence of aggression:

  • clenched fists;
  • hands behind your back.


A sign of discomfort can be raised eyebrows, constant nodding. The interlocutor may doubt your words or, on the contrary, worry about your opinion about him.

Nervous gestures:

  • swallowing and Adam’s apple movement
  • arms crossed, or one arm resting on the other
  • rapid breathing
  • lip biting
  • cowering (not just nervousness, but defensiveness)
  • constant touching of the purse, jewelry, hair, clothes


A bright sign will be yawning and stamping one foot. The person can’t wait to finish the conversation. Looking at your manicure, jewelry, constantly glancing at your watch will speak of disinterest .

Boredom signals:

  • eye rubbing
  • lowered corners of the lips without a hint of a smile
  • engaging in extraneous activity – drawing in a notebook, folding a napkin
  • extinct look

I trust you

If the interlocutor tilts his head in your direction or in general leans forward with his whole body, this may mean that he is interested and ready to listen carefully to all proposals. A bright sign is the so-called “ steepling ”, the connection of the fingers of different hands as if into a sphere. Also, this sign speaks not so much about trust, but about the fact that a person is close to trusting you.

In negotiations, a good signal would be to unbutton the top buttons of your shirt or take off your jacket, stretching your legs under the table. Translated from sign language, this means that the interlocutor is ready to drop the formalities and move on to a constructive conversation.

You are being evaluated

If a person seeks to analyze you, then he can lean back in a chair or touch the back of his neck, keep his hands in his pockets.

The most common signals:

  • chin scratching
  • a man takes off his glasses and puts it on his lips
  • hand on head with elbow out to the side

Simple Signals

These include manifestations of vivid emotions that cannot be hidden. It can be arrogance (haughty look, head held high), rage (mad look, rapid gait, quick gestures), sadness (drooping shoulders, dead eyes, signs of nervousness). The more expressive and stronger the feeling, the easier it is to recognize it on an intuitive level.

Are there exclusively male or female gestures?

Studies show that gestures and movements can be given a gendered meaning, stereotypes of typically male or typically female behavior may appear.

In our imagination, we imagine a set of signals that, in our opinion, indicate masculinity: the position in the chair (lounging a little, legs wide apart), the full-length posture – standing firmly on both legs, without creases in the arms. Speaking of a man, we can imagine how he can bang his fist on the table, show obscene gestures. Representing a true woman, we visualize a soft and languid voice, smooth movements, planting legs on legs, walking on hips.

The researchers emphasize that sign language is determined not only by gender differences, but also by the nation, the level of development of society. Behavior can also be influenced by status and position in society, a set of social roles, profession, personality type, a sense of one’s orientation, and other factors. Therefore, it is wrong to talk about the existence of exclusively male or female, since many other reasons besides gender influence behavior.

Psychologists’ advice: how to learn to recognize gestures?

The greatest contribution to the development of the understanding of body language and gestures in psychology was made by Allan Pease . In his famous book “Body Language”, he describes the techniques and methods of understanding the interlocutor.

Psychologists advise taking into account the temperament of a person, his usual excitability of the nervous system and behavior. Active gestures and an increase in the voice of a sanguine person do not indicate aggression or nervousness, but are normal behavior and do not indicate a negative attitude towards you.

It is known that the human face is asymmetrical. Feelings are harder to hide on the left side of the face. Positive emotions are reflected more evenly on both sides of the face, negative emotions are clearly expressed on the left. Therefore, when analyzing, focus on the left half of the face.

The main tip for understanding sign language in psychology is to develop observation . The more you pay attention to the behavior of others, the faster you learn to recognize them. Learn to connect facial expressions and movements with each other. If you feel anger and aggression in your voice, speech, or intuitively, look at the position of the body, the position of the hands, the tilt of the body, and the gaze.

event_note January 23, 2022

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