Phase 3: Interpreting Information

Updated 3 months 3 weeks ago

In Phase 0, I chose the topic of people watching from a list of inquiry projects. I also made an overall plan on possible ways I could learn about people watching in Xizhou. In Phase 1, I thought about the things I already knew about people watching and where I had to learn them. Afterward, I thought of the things that I would hope to learn more about during my adventure in Xizhou. In Phase 3, I will be sharing facts about my topic that I learn from my research both before and during the trip.

Background Information (from Phase 1): 

Western and Chinese body language cultures are very different[1].In China, touching someone's head, especially a child's is believed to have negative life long effects. The Chinese believe that the head is the window to the soul. Holding direct eye contact for an extended period of time can be considered aggressive. The Chinese also prefer a little more personal space, so it is better to restrict oneself to a handshake.[2] It is viewed as disrespectful to show the sole of one's shoe to another person. This gesture can be misinterpreted as singling someone out and accusatory. These gestures should be avoided, especially when in the company of a superior[2,3].

There are some difficulties when trying to people watch, especially in Chinese cultures. This is because as stated in the previous paragraph, it is disrespectful to hold eye contact for an extended period of time or stare at a person[2]. People watching can be creepy to both the people being watched and the person him/herself. The majority of the people do not enjoy being stared at. However, if one is able to find places that people cannot see oneself, one is able to find out a lot about different kinds of people[4].

One can learn a lot about someone from their body language and by people watching. From people watching, one can tell a person's self-esteem. Good postures with shoulders back and a straight back show that the person is secure, strong and pleased with themselves[5]. Although facial expressions are the most efficient way to express emotions, to have an even better understanding of their emotions, one can look at how tense the person is [7]. Even though one can learn a lot from just looking at people, to really understand body language, talking needs to be involved. Talking to others about their perspectives and what they notice can help one gather more information. The more people that you talk to the more information and perspectives you get. To be efficient in gathering information via people, it is best to talk to people who know a lot of people and are messengers[4]

In Xizhou, not only can you learn about body language in general, but you are also to compare and contrast the body language between tourists, citizens and the people in between[6]

There are 2 types of body language. Power body language and open body language. Signs of power body language may include: Touching, Talking with confidence and pauses and positions oneself higher. Touching is a sign of power. It can be threatening and is used by leaders to demonstrate power. When someone is confident, they usually talk using body beat in time with assertions and emphasize their points. When talking, a confident person uses pauses to look around at everyone and if they are not interrupted, the audience is respecting their power. One may position themselves higher by sitting on a higher chair, stand over people or wear heels[8]. Open body language may include: relaxed clothing, open arms and legs, and eye contact. Arms are usually in one's lap or synchronized with words. Legs are often in parallel position and are not crossed. Clothes are likely to hang loose or one may take an action of loosening clothing. For example, removing a jacket or unbuttoning a collar. The eye contact is not strong, but relaxed and soft. When one is using open body language, one may also be using it to show a passive threat[9].

Information From Local Contacts:

Mr. Wang[10] (3/17/19)

Mr. Wang is a tourist from Sichuan that I met at the main square of Sifang Jie. He was waiting for his family who were shopping at a jewelry store nearby. He said that he and his family had just finished tomb sweeping for his brothers and parents and passed by Xizhou on their way back to Sichuan. 

  • Believes that the people of Xizhou are very nice and humble
  • Notices that the language is different between the citizens and tourists
  • Notices that the clothing is also different between the citizens and tourists

Mr. Yang [11](3/17/19)

Mr. Yang is a tour guide that I met at the main square of Sifang Jie. He was waiting for his group who were inside the tourist center looking around. He is a citizen of Xizhou. Mr. Yang was very nice and willing to talk about the things he noticed while being around tourists every day. I was unable to finish the conversation with him since his the group that he was leading came out of the tourist center during the conversation.

  • Notices the skin color difference
  • The economy in places where tourists are is better than the economy of Xizhou
  • The tourists have more money
  • Tourists come to Xizhou mainly to see the architecture, Bai minority group, and the scenery
  • The young citizens and older citizens are very different

Ms. Huang [12] (3/17/19)

Ms. Huang is a tourist that I met at the main square of SIfang Jie. She was sitting on a stool eating a scoop of icecream, so I decided to approach her. She is originally from Chongqing and came here with a tour group. She arrived at Xizhou on the evening of March 16 and was leaving on the afternoon March 17. I was not able to finish the conversation because she had to get going with the schedule of the group.

  • The main difference between the citizens and tourists of Xizhou is the Bai Minority group
  • You can spot a tourist by the different language they use

Ms. Zhong [13](3/17/19)

Ms. Zhong is one of the Zhong sisters that own a restaurant in Sifang Jie and is good friends with Mr. T. I decided to approach her since she sees tourists walk around every day, and her knowledge of tourists impacts her income.

  • The clothes of the citizens and tourists of Xizhou are similar
  • The tourists talk in a nice tone when they are talking to citizens
  • The tourists rarely talk to the citizens other than for buying products and asking for directions
  • The culture is different since Bai is a minority group

Ms. Zhong [14] (3/18/19)

Ms. Zhong is the other sister of the Zhong sisters who own a restaurant in Sifang Jie. I decided to approach her since I had a conversation with her sister the day before and I was curious if they shared the same opinions.

  • Notices that the skin color is different between tourists and citizens
  • The clothing is different
  • The language is different 
  • Does not know the assumptions made by the tourists
  • Thinks that the tourists do not understand the fun in Xizhou
  • There is no difference between the distance when tourists talk to each other and when they talk to the citizens
  • Notices that the clothing that tourists wear are brighter.

Ms. Huang [15](3/18/19)

Ms. Huang is a jewelry store owner who is originally from Guangdong and came to Xizhou 2 years ago with her friends as a tourist. During our conversation, she explained that she decided to settle here in Xizhou because it was much quieter and peaceful.

  • Does not notice the difference between tourists and citizens
  • The citizens have an accent
  • Thinks the citizens are elders

Mr. Peng [16] (3/19/19)

I met Mr. Peng at the morning market. He is originally from Sichuan and has been selling chili spices in the market for around 10 years. Although he was setting up his booth and told us to be quick with the questions at the beginning, as time went on he became more relaxed and willing to answer the questions. He even gave us a small bag of spices for free. 

  • Thinks tourists are nice
  • Foreigners (tourists) buy his spices
  • Sells spices not because he is from Sichuan but because he likes money
  • Thinks that the tourists help him make money
  • The tourists have a nice attitude when talking to the citizens

Mr. Yang [17](3/19/19)

Mr. Yang is the owner of a convenience store in the morning market. I asked other workers who worked at the store, but only Mr. Yang was willing to talk to me since he was sitting down and eating his breakfast which consisted of a bowl of noodles.

  • The clothing that tourists wear are much more fashionable
  • Tourists and citizens use the same type of transportation
  • Wants to tell tourists to protect Er Hai
  • Thinks that the etiquette of citizens are better than the tourists

Ms. Zhao [18](3/19/19)

Ms. Zhao sells marinated vegetables in the morning market. She has been doing this business for around 12 years now. Though she had many customers, she was still willing to take the time to answer my questions and shared a lot of her thoughts. She was also one of the few people who was smiling all the time. 

  • Thinks that citizens have to contribute more
  • The citizens are surviving
  • The tourists are enjoying life
  • Other than buying things and asking for directions, the tourists do not talk to them

Ms. Qing [19] (3/19/19)

Ms. Qing works at the morning market and has been selling animal products for 17 years. She is a member of the Bai minority and only speaks the language. Though there was a language barrier, she did not reject talking to me and was really nice. When I asked her about the difference between citizens and tourists of Xizhou, she kept giving me directions and pointing to Sifang Jie showing me that there was where the tourists were. Although I could not understand most of what she was saying, I could still understand bits and pieces which were still useful.

  • The tourists are all at Sifang Jie
  • Citizens are usually farmers
  • The farmers do not have as much money
  • The farmers do their best to make money
  • Citizens wear "old people clothing"

Mr. Zhu [20] (3/19/19)

Mr. Zhu is an antique store owner that I have previously made a connection with. He has been selling antiques for around 20 years near Sifang Jie. I decided to approach him since many tourists like to look and buy antiques from a particular place. The tourists in some ways also determine his income.

  • Citizens know who are citizens since everyone knows each other
  • Does not notice body language
  • Citizens live in older houses

Ms. Apple Chen [21](3/20/19)

Ms. Apple Chen is a tourist I met at the square of Sifang Jie. She and her friend are planning to stay in Dali for half a month and Xizhou for a week. They are both originally from Nanjing. When I approached them, it was raining and they were under a large outdoor umbrella to not be rained on and on their phones. At first, when I approached them, they looked up and down again at their phones having no interest in talking to me. Then when I explained that I was a student, they looked up again then ignored me again. However, I kept talking and at the end, they gave up on ignoring me. Ms. Chen was really nice, open in talking about her experience and was the first person that I met who knew body language by it's "official" name.

  • Can tell a tourist by their facial expression
  • You can see excitement and curiosity in a tourist's eyes
  • Tourists focus on the surroundings and scenery
  • Citizens focus on giving tourists good service
  • Citizens show open body language when tourists want to buy their products
  • Did not have any assumptions about Xizhou
  • Thinks that Xizhou is a really nice place
  • The most that she will remember is how well the culture is preserved
  • The environment is simple and nice
  • The body language of citizens and tourists are different
  • Tourists are adventurous

Mr. Yang [22] (3/20/19)

Mr. Yang works in the Dali information department of the Linden Center. He has been working in the Linden Center since 2017 and is also a teacher support for the SAS students of Microcampus. He was my teacher support for the day and on the way back from Sifang Jie, we had a conversation about how the culture of tourists in Xizhou has changed throughout his time as a tour guide.

  • In the beginning, tourists only remembered Xizhou Ba Ba and Cold noodles about Xizhou
  • Then the tourists started coming to Xizhou for other reasons
  • Tourists wanted to come to Xizhou to look at the architecture and culture 
  • The culture included Bai minority and the religion
  • Tourists also started noticing the horse carriages
  • In the beginning, 90% of the guests in the Linden Center were foreigners
  • Now the guests are 50% Chinese and 50%, foreigners

Ms. Li [23] (3/25/19)

Ms. Li is a Xizhou snacks shop owner across Yuan Zhao Lou. Yuan Zhao Lou is one of the most popular places to take photos in Xizhou, so a lot of tourists come to the area. I decided to approach Ms. Li since she watches many tourists and their behavior every day.

  • When the tourists are taking photos, they do not let the cars pass
  • The tourists get into arguments with the car drivers
  • Tourists always ask for a bargain
  • Citizens can not live if there is a bargain

Ms. Zhou [24] (3/25/19)

Ms. Zhou is a street cleaner and was talking with Ms. Li when I approached Ms. Li. She had many opinions towards the tourists as well.

  • Most tourists are nice
  • Tourists use filler words to call citizens
  • When citizens ask the tourists if they want something, the tourists completely ignore them
  • The distance between when citizens are talking to each other and to citizens is the same

Shawn [25] (3/25/19)

I met Shawn outside a coffee shop near the canola fields. Shawn is an admission officer for Bard College and works in Beijing. He is originally from Elgin Illinois. He first came to China in 2008 and to Xizhou in 2014. This is his fourth visit to Xizhou. Shawn is staying in the Linden Centre, Shanghai American School very well and wants to come visit Yang Zhuo Ran and learn about the Microcampus program that he learned about through Mr. Linden.

  • People who sell things understand western body language
  • Since 2008, the body language of the Chinese citizens has become more confident
  • The clothing is different
  • Tourists are always on their phones or taking photos
  • Citizens walk with a purpose
  • Had assumptions about Xizhou before coming the first time
  • Thought Xizhou was more natural and beautiful
  • Thought Xizhou was less developed and education levels were low
  • Realized that Xizhou uses tourism to help build their community and wealth
  • Realized that the scenery of Xizhou helps "cover up" their flaws

Ms. Wang [26] (3/26/19)

Ms. Wang is a citizen that I met at the park next to Zheng Yi Gate. She was at the "ladies corner" talking with 3 other friends. I was not able to finish the conversation since she had to go home.

  • Tourists do not let the cars go 
  • Tourists do not have manners
  • There are all kinds of people in the world
  • Language is different
  • Everyone has their likes and dislikes

Mr. Zhong [27](3/26/19)

Mr. Zhong is a volunteer who is originally from Jian Cun. This time, he is visiting for 2-3 days. Although he has been here many times, he does not consider himself a citizen.

  • Notices that the tourists wear brighter colors
  • Notices that the architecture has changed throughout his visits

Information From Personal Observations:

I added this section specifically for my topic of people watching since this topic requires me to take time and observe people with my support teacher of the day. I will watch and observe people for the first few days to get to know how my questions apply to the area of Xizhou. This means that I will not be talking to the citizens and tourists as much meaning that the "Information From Local Contacts" section may not be as full. These observations are generalized and do not apply to every tourist and citizen of Xizhou.


  • Wear brighter colors
  • Wear umbrellas/hats to block out the sun
  • Stay in groups
  • Brighter colored bags
  • Take pictures of anything
  • Talking loudly and not being aware of their surroundings
  • Wearing jewelry
  • Try to get things
  • Following each other in getting food and taking photos
  • Dress more
  • Have their hair done
  • Pose for photos
  • Wear shopped items
  • Open body language
  • Wear "traditional" clothing
  • One use containers
  • Backpack in front
  • Multitasking
  • Wear sports shoes
  • Buy bright clothing and souvenirs 
  • Flower Crowns
  • Wear sunglasses
  • Smiling all the time
  • Picture taking
  • Stopping and looking
  • Something in their hands
  • Slow-paced walking
  • Showing more skin
  • Masks
  • Umbrellas with patterns
  • Wearing black which is considered as the new fashion color
  • Buy things to please each other
  • Hair done in the stereotypical braids and ribbons
  • Pointing at places
  • Do not really know small villages such as Xizhou
  • Are in groups of 2 or 4
  • On their phones most of the time
  • Immediately taking a photo of things
  • Hands on the side
  • Large cameras
  • Having a bad attitude towards each other
  • Wearing popular styles
  • Take photos in the same angles
  • Spit on the roads while taking photos
  • Ignore the citizens as if they are not important
  • On their phones
  • Calling the citizens bad names
  • Holding a lot of bags in their hands
  • Easily distracted
  • Ignoring the citizens


  • Have something to do
  • By themselves
  • Friendly
  • Looking for eye contact
  • No sunglasses
  • Wear less compared to tourists
  • No umbrellas
  • Talk less
  • Talk quietly
  • Observe
  • Closed body language
  • Monotasking
  • Wear darker colors
  • Focused
  • Casual clothing
  • Walking with purpose
  • Side bags
  • Know each other
  • Showing a serious mood
  • Looking at tourists to earn money
  • Used to the weather
  • Loud when with each other
  • Use sunglasses only when they are by themselves
  • Focused
  • Women wear brighter clothing, but still dark compared to tourists
  • Use multiple use containers
  • Hands are behind their backs
  • Relaxed

Answers To Previous Questions (from Phase 1):

In this section, I will be answering some of the questions I came up with in Phase 1. Since my arrival in Xizhou, I have changed the direction of the project within the topic of body language than what I originally intended. After a few field research blocks, I realized that many of my questions did not make sense since the questions were more towards a scholar on the topic rather than citizens and tourists. I had to tweak a few questions in order to be able to find the answer to my initial questions. However, even with this strategy, I was still unable to find answers to all my questions.

How has Chinese body language changed throughout history?

After talking to a western tourist that first arrived in China in 2008 named Shawn, I found my answer to this question. He mentioned that since 2008, the Chinese citizens have shown more confidence with their body language. For example, their backs are straighter and shoulders are more rolled back. 

What are the differences between the citizens and tourists of Xizhou?
There are many differences between the two groups and each group has different perspectives. The tourists mainly notice the language and skin color difference between the two groups. Citizens also notice the same things, but they believe that the tourists come to enjoy life while the citizens are just trying to get by. 

Do the citizens and/or tourists of Xizhou notice body language?
After many conversations with both the citizens and tourists, I have noticed that neither group is conscious of body language and does not know the term by it's "official name". Many people would be confused when I mentioned the term, so I would have to give examples and explain. Often, even after explaining and giving examples people would still be confused.

Do the citizens know or notice the assumptions being made on them?
The citizens know that there are always assumptions being made on them, but they do not know and are not conscious of the assumptions. However, they do not mind and ignore the assumptions being made on them knowing that what they are doing is right and they need to do certain things in order to survive.

How do the citizens of Xizhou view the tourists?
The majority of the citizens believe that tourists are very nice and have manners. When the tourists talk to the citizens, they use the same tone when they are talking among themselves, which is a friendly one. However, the tourists do not usually show eye contact towards the citizens, making the citizens feel they are smaller than the tourists. Also, the citizens notice that the tourists are usually talking in a louder tone when they are talking to one another and are not aware of the surroundings around them. 

How often do the tourists interact with the citizens of Xizhou?
Every citizen that I have talked to has said that the tourists do not really interact with the citizens. The only time that the tourists approach the citizens is to buy something or to ask for directions. However, the citizens say that when the tourists do approach them, they are nice and friendly most of the time. 

What are the differences in body language between the citizens and tourists of Xizhou?

The main difference is that the citizens usually walk with a purpose and the tourists wander around looking for something to do. Another difference in body language is that tourists are usually on their phones when they are walking around. Even when they see scenery, they look at the scenery through their phones. (Photos)


In Phase 3, I went out into the village and gathered a lot of information from different people. I have organized my information by the people I had a conversation with and wrote down answers to the questions I came up with in Phase 1. In Phase 4, I will be coming up with a thesis statement and preparing for my final product.


1. Cotton, Gale. "Gestures to Avoid in Cross-Cultural Business: In other words, 'Keep Your Fingers to Yourself!' " The Huffington Post. Aug.13, 2013
2. Jeffery Hackbarth. "Take the Hint: A Guide to Chinese Body Language" Here! Dong Guan. May 12, 2015.
3. Elkins, Kathleen. Nudelman, Mike. "The Shocking Differences in Body Language Around the World" Business Insider. Mar. 17, 2015
4. W___, Marie. Body Language: People in Xizhou,
5. Whitbourn, Susan. "The Expert's Guide to People Watching" Psychology Today.
6. C___, Mia. Body Language in Xizhou.
7. Changing Minds and Persuasion--How We Change What Others Think, Believe, Feel and Do, www.changing
8." Power Body Language"
9. "Open Body Language.",
10. Mr. Wang, Personal Interview conducted by Erin.S, March 17, 2019
11. Mr. Yang, Personal Interview conducted by Erin.S, March 17, 2019
12. Ms. Huang, Personal Interview conducted by Erin.S, March 17, 2019
13. Ms. Zhong, Personal Interview conducted by Erin.S, March 17, 2019
14. Ms. Zhong, Personal Interview conducted by Erin.S, March 18, 2019
15. Ms. Huang, Personal Interview conducted by Erin.S, March 18, 2019
16. Mr. Peng, Personal Interview conducted by Erin.S, March 19, 2019
17. Mr. Yang, Personal Interview conducted by Erin.S, March 19, 2019
18. Ms. Zhao, Personal Interview conducted by Erin.S, March 19, 2019
19. Ms. Qing, Personal Interview conducted by Erin. S, March 19, 2019
20. Mr. Zhu, Personal Interview conducted by Erin.S, March 19, 2019
21. Ms. Apple Chen Personal Interview conducted by Erin.S March 20, 2019
22. Mr. Yang Personal Interview conducted by Erin.S March 20, 2019
23. Ms. Li Personal Interview conducted by Erin.S March 25, 2019
24. Ms. Zhou Personal Interview conducted by Erin.S March 25, 2019
25. Shawn Personal Interview conducted by Erin.S March 25, 2019
26. Ms. Wang Personal Interview conducted by Erin.S March 26, 2019
27. Mr. Zhong Personal Interview conducted by Erin.S March 26, 2019



Erin, your research is interesting. I especially like the comparisons between locals and tourists. How do you deal with drawing conclusions from your research while not trying to make assumptions about others? I appreciate your perseverance in interviewing strangers. That takes a lot of guts.

I'm 13 years old and my favorite hobbies are to bake and do crafts. I am originally from Taiwan, however, I have only lived in Taiwan for a year. This is my 8th year at Shanghai American school. I awent to Xizhou and enjoyed the environment a lot. Although the place is different from what I expected, it is even better.