Self-Touch Gestures

According to the Nonverbal Dictionary of Gestures, Signs & Body Language "self-touch cues reflect the arousal level of our sympathetic nervous system's fight-or-flight response. We unconsciously touch our bodies when emotions run high to comfort, relieve, or release stress. Lips are favorite places for fingertips to land and deliver reassuring body contact."

A Perfect Example: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton

Hillary Clinton Osama

(Photo Credit: Pete Souza)

Iconic image taken on May 1st 2012 during the real time monitoring of the mission against Osama bin Laden.

Click Here to see a larger version of this image.

Not Just Hillary

Obama Osama

(Photo Credit: Pete Souza)

Composite of several images of the President and his national security team during a series of meetings in the Situation Room of the White House discussing the mission against Osama bin Laden on Sunday, May 1st.

Click Here to see a larger version of this image and count the number of self-touch gestures on display.

Auto Contact Behaviour

(Photo Credit: Daniel Conway)

Writing in Manwatching: a field guide to human behaviour, Desmond Morris coined the phrase Auto Contact Behaviour when discussing self-touch gestures; which he stated provide tangible clues as to our moods and inner feelings, particularly in relation to comfort, flirting and sexual posing.

Examples cited include self stroking of the thighs/arms, crossing/uncrossing of the legs, thumbs resting in belts/pockets (see image above), head touching, hair flicking, hand clasping and the placement of hand to mouth.

You Can Touch But Don't Look!

Want to see raw unadulterated emotions and their associated body language gestures on show? Check out our very own body language expert and massive Manchester United fan Craig-James Baxter's watching the incredible climax to the premier league title unfold. Look out for all the self-touch gestures on display.

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