Phase 1: Posing Real Questions
In Phase 1, I will be starting to pose more specific questions as well as build on background knowledge for the topic I will be studying on my stay at Microcampus in Xizhou. In Phase 0, I chose my topic: People Watching.
What I Already Know:
I understand that body language is a form of communicating where you use gestures and expressions instead of words. I know that very simple differences in your body movement can indicate different emotions. For example, it is common knowledge that when one is feeling defensive or angry, they may crose their arms across the chest. Another instance would be if they were feeling nervous, they would bite their nails. Finally, I also realize that everybody reacts to certain postitions/gestures differently, and could be conveying different thoughts using the same series of movements.
Where I Learned This From:
I have learned some of these things from my mother, as she has majored in child psychology. I can recall times where my sister or I have misbehaved when we were younger, and how she called us out for lying about our actions, telling us it was obvious to read our feelings based off how we positioned ourselves. I believe that was when I first learnt what body language meant. From then on, I have heard some of my friends discuss it, or even watched some television shows incorporate it into episodes.
What I Want to Know:
During my time in Xizhou, I want to learn the differences of our communities based off body language. More specifically, I would want to know and understand how the way they communicate through body language is impacted by their environment in Xizhou. Going beyond what Marie W. did in the past, I would like to do more background research from the start and see what specific emotions are tied to gestures. This way, I can see if they not only do different body movements, but if they react differently emotionally as well. Understanding the actions themselves more is important because it will allow me to see if they are doing the gestures out of habit, or out of a specific emotions. This will again, tie into my idea of understanding how the environment of Xizhou would impact a person’s emotions or non-verbal communications towards a subject, by making observations of their livelihood while I am there.
For my inquiry project, I did further background research, in which you can find on Phase 3. I conducted further research as it will help me understand my topic enough so that I can begin to pose stronger questions about my topic.
These 10 Big Questions are important because they will serve as the fundemental basis for the beginning of my research process when I reach Xizhou. The words in italics underneath my Big Questions are the possible answers to my questions, based only on my current knowledge on the topic.
Knowledge of Body Language:
1. Are they aware of what body language is?
I would guess not, because most people are unaware of the concept of body language, even when they are making gestures. From personal experience, I know that I make gestures at times that are fully by instinct. For example, if I am highly interested in what someone else is saying, I might nod subconsciously, and lean in forward. Most of the time, I do not even realize that my body has made these gestures. However, body language could be derived from things like reminders from parents to stand up straight as a kid, as that is part of one's culture. This could eventually turn into always standing with a back straight, whether or not you are aware of it.
2. What are their personal opinions on the use of body language? Do they think it is important?
I think that parts such as eye contact will be of immense importance, as I have been told multiple times by different people that it is a huge part of the culture. However, small things like tapping your foot or twiddling with fingers may not be of huge importance to them. I cannot make an accurate guess on their personal opinion, as I believe that will differ from person to person.
Use of Body Language:
3. What type of body gestures/movements are the most commonly used to communicate specific emotions? This could include eye movements, hand gestures, etc.
Again, eye movement is something that I have been told is a huge part of their community, so I would believe that is a way commonly used to connect with other villagers. However, to convey specific emotions may be different. As mentioned in some background research I conducted in Phase 3, it says that facial expressions are the easiest way to tell someones emotions, whilst body posture or hand gestures can tell things such as nervousness or eagerness.
4. How many people do the villagers communicate with through body language on a daily basis, and how?
Because body language includes eye contact, I think they would communicate with everyone that they do not see as someone who "does not understand" their culture. This could include the tourists, as they may come off as disrespectful of the culture.
5. Do they show the meaning of body language through anything besides day to day life? This could include special dances, prayers, etc.
I am not sure of this yet, but I am sure I could interview some of the people I meet and ask if there are any special dances or prayers that they do that involve a lot of movement or body language.
Tourists vs. Villagers:
6. How do villagers communicate with other villagers compared to with the tourists? How much space do they put in between themselves and the people around them, based off who the other person is?
I am sure that the villagers will be very comfortable with the other villagers, as it sounds like a very open and welcome community. This also leads me to believe that there would not be that much space between them, as they probably do not consider a lot of them to be strangers. As for the tourists, they may leave a bigger space if they feel uncomfortable.
7. How do tourists communicate with other tourists compared to with the villagers? How much space do they put in between themselves and the people around them, based off who the other person is?
If it is a group of tourists together, they will not put a lot of space between them, because they are not strangers. Towards the villagers, however, many may think they are better than the local community and look down on them. Personally, I do not think that they will interact with the villagers at all, because of their arrogance.
8. How do the tourists react (body language wise) to the Xizhou lifestyle? This could include reactions to lines, service, etc.
Depending on things like how service is or how long lines are in Xizhou, they may get impatient and convey that through their body language. If they think they are better than the local community, they may exert some of the power body language movements discussed in my background research on phase 3.
The Affects from Culture/History
9. How do the traditions in their area affect their natural body language when communicating with others?
Again, body language can be used as a natural instinct when feeling certain emotions. For example, based off their known tradition and other factors of their culture, they may be affected in the sense of how they greet people with body language.
10. Besides how the current culture, how does their personal history affect their use of body language?
Outside of their overall culture, everyone has a personal history. This is their story. It could range from anything to their personal experiences with strangers to how their parents treated body posture when they were a kid. As mentioned before, if they were told time and time again to straighten their back, it could become a daily habit.
I will need to do further research into a tourist's behavior, as well as look into typical personal space in the China area compared to others before leaving for Xizhou. This is so that I can make the most of my time there.
I will now be moving into Phase 2, where I will be finding helpful resources for my Inquiry Project in Xizhou.