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Peoplewatching: The Desmond Morris Guide to…

Peoplewatching: The Desmond Morris Guide to Body Language (1977)

by Desmond Morris

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It's the 2002 update of the 1977 book Manwatching: A Field Guide to Human Behaviour; Morris grumbles a bit about having to change the title in these new times, but then he gets on with the serious business of looking at different things that we do with our bodies to for specific non-verbal communications - 488 pages worth, with loads of diagrams. To be honest, I found it entertaining rather than enlightening; there is no over-arching theory other than that it pays to pay attention to what people are doing as well as saying. It is interesting to see how some gestures can mean quite different things in different countries - in some places the beckoning gesture that I use, moving my hand towards me, actually means "go away"; my daughter's habit of telling us not to bother her by pushing her open hand towards us is amusing here but extremely rude in Greece. ( )
  nwhyte | Nov 4, 2017 |
Of the books I've read on body language, this is definitely the most comprehensive and scholarly. Unlike more simplistic texts (e.g. "I Know What You're Thinking" and "The Definitive Book of Body Language"), Desmond Morris tackles one of the most relevant, insightful and interesting issues in developing a knowledge of body language - regional variations.

Most books pay some lip service to this (that gestures can mean different things in different cultures), but this text goes into considerably more detail, drawing geographical boundaries around particular types of gesture and enabling the reader to understand that body language is not a genetic system hard-wired into the body, but something that - like the spoken word - is an intergral part of the way we communicate within a culture. Indeed, the discussion in the opening chapter about the way people learn and develop makes the book worth buying even before you start considering the main subject matter.

I want to complete reading this text - it is quite a volume - but I've already gained a deeper sensitivity for the subject than all the other more populist books I've read on this subject. ( )
  roryridleyduff | Feb 28, 2008 |
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Just as a bird-watcher watches birds, so a man-watcher watches people.
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Completely revised and updated, with much new material, 'Peoplewatching' is the culmination of a career watching people, their behaviour and habits, their personalities and their quirks. Desmond Morris shows us how people, conciously and unconciously, signal their attitudes, desires and innermost feelings with their bodies and actions.… (more)

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