Body Language in Different Cultures

An error occurred trying to load this video.

Try refreshing the page, or contact customer support.

Coming up next: What is Ordinal-Linguistic Personification?

You're on a roll. Keep up the good work!

Take Quiz Watch Next Lesson
Your next lesson will play in 10 seconds
  • 0:03 What is Body Language?
  • 0:55 Body Language in China
  • 1:25 Body Language in India
  • 2:25 Body Language in England
  • 3:10 Lesson Summary
Save Save Save

Want to watch this again later?

Log in or sign up to add this lesson to a Custom Course.

Log in or Sign up

Speed Speed

Recommended Lessons and Courses for You

Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Holly DeLuca

Holly has taught special education students and has a master's degree in special education

Different countries and their respective cultures employ different types of body language. This lesson will discuss a variety of body language used in different cultures.

What is Body Language?

While driving in New Zealand, a tourist couple missed a stop sign and were pulled over by the police. When they explained that they were not from the area and had accidentally missed the stop sign, the police offer gave them a warning. The husband was pleased, so he gave the officer a 'thumbs up' gesture. The officer then proceeded to put the man in handcuffs and called for backup. Why, you ask? A thumbs up is seen as a rude gesture in New Zealand!

So what is body language? We can define it as the way people demonstrate their emotions through body movements such as facial expressions, eye contact, and hand gestures. It can even include personal space and the way one dresses. The thumbs up example above illustrates that not all cultures have the same norms when it comes to body language. Let's look at examples of body language in three other cultures.

Body Language in China

In China, when talking with someone who is older than you, you should lower your head and bend slightly to show respect. In addition, people of different statuses in China do not shake hands. Shaking hands is reserved for those who are of the same social status, are friends, or interact as business people. Similarly, it would be easy for an uninformed person to insult someone in China with a simple hand gesture. They would simply need to scrape a finger across their own face. This type of body language is intended to show that they are looking down upon the other person.

Body Language in India

Are you thinking of traveling to India? You might want to brush up on some of the customs regarding body language. The body language of Indian culture has two types of gestures: 'illustrators', are gestures that go along with words, and 'emblems', are gestures that have their own meaning and do not accompany words. For example, when greeting someone, you are expected to use the namaste illustrator, which involves folding the hands in a prayer-like gesture while speaking a greeting.

To unlock this lesson you must be a Member.
Create your account

Register to view this lesson

Are you a student or a teacher?

Unlock Your Education

See for yourself why 30 million people use

Become a member and start learning now.
Become a Member  Back
What teachers are saying about
Try it risk-free for 30 days

Earning College Credit

Did you know… We have over 200 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 1,500 colleges and universities. You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree. Anyone can earn credit-by-exam regardless of age or education level.

To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page

Transferring credit to the school of your choice

Not sure what college you want to attend yet? has thousands of articles about every imaginable degree, area of study and career path that can help you find the school that's right for you.

Create an account to start this course today
Try it risk-free for 30 days!
Create an account