Phase 3: Interpreting Information

Updated 1 week 1 day ago

In Phase 3, I will collect information from the avaliable resources in Shanghai and the local community of Xizhou. I will analyze my found data so that I am able to answer my ten big questions that are posed in Phase 1.

Background Information (from Phase 1):

What Body Language Is:

Body language is a type of communication that is nonverbal, relying on gestures and movements to convey emotions or messages. It can be used consciously or unconsciously, and either serve as a subsitute for speech or along with speech[1]. As in my topic, I will be looking more at what gestures show what emotions they are feeling as a reaction, so the information will mainly consist of facial expression, posture, gestures, and use of space. Body language can signify the attitude and personality of the person as well.

Different Emotions and How to Distinguish:

Body language is a big key to telling what emotions people are feeling. This can go anywhere from the eye movement they make to the way their arms are positioned in the moment. Something that I found interesting was that some studies have shown that although facial expressions are the most effective ways to express a specific emotion, body posture, or static posture, is better to look at when trying to find such thing like how tense a person was feeling[2]. For example, a person who feels anger may clench their fists, whilst a person who feels happiness may show more overall relaxed muscles[2]

Power Body Language/Open Body Language:

I decided to look into these two categories of body language as well, as it will be important for me to distinguish the difference between the two when I am observing relationships between people in Xizhou. When a person typically feels anger, they would typically use power body language, and open body language is used in a state of joy.

The use of power body language in anger is logical, as invasion of space if also shown in this mood, and touch is a huge part of showing one's power[3]. Another simple gesture that signifies power would include exaggerated gestures whether in talking, walking, or even standing. When talking, aggressive hand gestures such as beating with a finger or a palm could be used to show power. As for walking, exaggerated swinging of the arms and kinking elbows out in order to widen your stance would be also included. 

As for open body language, the arms and legs would not be closed in any way[4]. An important detail to look at would be the palms. If the palms are facing upwards, this gives off the feeling of a pleading gesture and shares a sense of trust with the person that is being communicated with. If the palms are sideways, but with arms rounded, the person could be offering a 'mock hug', which shows that they care for the other person.

In both of these categories of body language, the posture, more specifically the hands, are a big help to see what kind of body language is being used.

How to Stay Unobtrusive:

This means to make the people I watch or communicate with at Xizhou do not feel as though I am intruding their personal lives. This is important as pointed out by Marie W. [5], as if they feel uncomfortable, unnatural uses of body language may occur, leading to inaccurate notes in my inquiry project. Some things she discussed that made the villagers feel uncomfortable is simply staring at them. I learned from reading her research that the Xizhou community may feel especially intruded by incoming tourists who come off as disrespectful to the culture. Something especially notable is the reactions towards clothing worn by tourists (the clothing we know to be worn in Shanghai), particularly by women. It is evident that purely based off the clothing, the Xizhou community may give the tourists more "space" and make less eye contact, as they feel the tourists "do not understand" their culture. Overall, a big takaway from her inquiry research is that to stay unobstrusive, it is important to always respect their culture, as we are asking them about their lives and staying in their home. 

Another thing to note is that a lot of tourists seem to display use of power body language, signifying that they seem to think they are more powerful than the local community at Xizhou. This is especially shown when Marie stated that almost all tourists have no interaction with the villagers unless they are purchasing a product. This allows for the villagers to aim and make less contact with those tourists, so I will try hard to do nothing of the sort, as I understand that it is highly disrespectful.

Information From 3-to-5's:

Information from Local Contacts:

Answers to Previous Questions (from Phase 1):


1. Nordquist, Richard. "The Role of Body Language in the Communication Process."ThoughtCo,, accessed April 14 2017
2. "Emotional Body Language",, accessed April 14 2017
3. "Power Body Language",, accessed April 14 2017
4. "Open Body Language.",, accessed April 14 2017
5. Marie W. Body Language: People in Xizhou, accessed April 14th 2017

Hi! I'm Mia C., and I was born in Taipei, Taiwan. I've lived in Shanghai for about 11 years now, and I've been at SAS since the start of 3rd grade. I love being active and understanding the world around me, which are both reasons I'm excited for my future Microcampus experience. Besides that, I've also heard about all the fun it is from my sister, Melanie, who is an Alumni. I can't wait for this incredible opportunity!