Body language tells, you're rich or poor

5 Feb 2009, 1647 hrs IST, ANI

WASHINGTON: Other than clothes, house and flashy cars, the socio-economic status (SES) of a person can be guessed by his or her body language, according to a study.

Psychologists Michael W. Kraus and Dacher Keltner of the University of California, Berkeley found that non-verbal cues (that is, body language) could indicate our SES.

From the study, the researchers videotaped participants as they got to know one another in one-on-one interview sessions.

During these taped sessions, the researchers looked for two types of behaviours: disengagement behaviours (including fidgeting with personal objects and doodling) and engagement behaviours (including head nodding, laughing and eye contact).

The results indicated that nonverbal cues can give away a person's SES.

Volunteers whose parents were from upper SES backgrounds displayed more disengagement-related behaviours compared to participants from lower SES backgrounds.

Besides, when a separate group of observers were shown 60-second clips of the videos, they were able to correctly guess the participants' SES background, based on their body language.

The researchers note that this is the first study to show a relation between SES and social engagement behaviour. They surmise that people from upper SES backgrounds who are wealthy and have access to prestigious institutions tend to be less dependent on others.

"This lack of dependence among upper SES people is displayed in their nonverbal behaviors during social interactions," concluded the psychologists.