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Judee K. Burgoon & Norah E. Dunbar

In: The SAGE Handbook of Nonverbal Communication

Chapter 15: Nonverbal Expressions of Dominance and Power in Human Relationships

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Nonverbal Expressions of Dominance and Power in Human Relationships
Nonverbal expressions of dominance and power in human relationships

Fundamental to all social species is the negotiation and expression of dominance and power relationships. Whether it is establishing a pecking order or a marching order, proclaiming privileges or prohibitions, exercising leadership or intimidation, humans, like other mammals, have evolved intricate means of signaling in any social encounter who are “one up” or “one down,” who can “have” or “have not,” who “goes before” or “goes after.” Such signaling is a necessity for creating and maintaining social order. And, as with so many other aspects of social behavior, much of this work is done nonverbally. It is the nonverbal signals of dominance-submission and power-powerlessness that constitute the ...

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