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[Id and Ego] 8 Things You Can Tell Just By Watching Hands

By — One of many Psychology blogs on

Communication is about much more than what you actually SAY. We communicate through our clothes and personal belongings. We communicate through our preferences. We even, as previously discussed, communicate through our smell. But this week, let's talk hands.

These days, there are more ways than ever for people to communicate. We communicate through social networks, instant message, email, phone, texting, and good old fashioned one-on-one discussion. But before we ever spoke, we used our bodies to communicate, and today we still do -  our hands are a big part of that.

Compared with the rest of our body, our brain pays an enormous amount of attention to our fingers and hands, and in fact, studies have confirmed this. In one experiment, researchers held a conversation with test subjects that was completely normal except for one thing, they hid their hands during the entire conversation. While the test subjects may not have seen a researcher's hands, they sensed something was wrong.

In an experiment involving the court system, attorneys and witnesses who hid their hands were seen as less honest than those who didn't. It's amazing what we can pick up when we learn to watch hands.

Here are just some of the things our hands are saying:

#1. Who We Are

Even before we do anything with our hands, they communicate with their appearance. Like our clothes and hairstyle, the way we care for our hands can reveal both how much we care for ourselves and how much we care for social conventions. Caring for your hands is a simple way to make a positive impression. Are your hands clean or filthy? Dry or moisturized? Are they scarred? Are the nails manicured or dirty? Men with long nails may be viewed as strange or effeminate. Nails that have been chewed communicate their owner's stress and insecurity. Someone with a hand full of rings or tattoos may find others don't take them seriously. No matter what pains you take to present a picture-perfect appearance, how you behave with your hands can still reveal what's really going on. See if you can spot any of these behaviors in yourself or in those around you:

#2. Signs of Anxiety

#3. Signs of Boredom

#4. Signs of Contemplation

#5. Signs of Attraction and Affection

#6. Signs of Confidence

#7. Signs of Aggression

#8. Signs of Dishonesty


Changing Minds: Hand Body Language

Changing Minds: Finer Body Language

Photo Credits:


king of the wild frontier@flickr

wajakemek | rashdanothman@flickr


jay morrison@flickr


Jeremy Brooks@flickr


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