Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Body Language Secret # 444:
Why (most) Women are Better than Men
with Nonverbal Communication

I often get asked what makes some better than others at body language. There are many qualities which influence this skill set. One particularly interesting factor is gender. In general - women are better than men when it comes to both the interpreting nonverbal communication and the projection of proper body language in context. 

There are several reasons for this, and while we may not be able to qualify or quantify them all, one measurable factor is related to a tissue in our brains called the "Corpus Callosum". This special group of nerve cells is labeled with the number "2" (light blue) in the artificially colored MRI shown above. While a subject of some controversy, many studies show the corpus callosum in women is, on average, 10% more voluminous and contains 30% more neurons when compared to the average man. Thus the right and left hemispheres of the brain can communicate back and forth more efficiently in women. Therefore most (but not all) women can process what is seen and spoken in real-time and then determine if these are in agreement much more accurately and quicker than most men. While other gender-brain differences may play a role here, this ability to rapidly multitask, is particularly valuable when sorting out many visual and verbal signals and responding to them in real-time. 

Not surprisingly, women are especially superior to men when it comes to lie detection - although one specific event can evaporate this skill very rapidly. What brings this sea change?