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Albert Mehrabian nonverbal communication [Communication]

Albert Mehrabian nonverbal communication

Professor Albert Mehrabian's communications model

Professor Albert Mehrabian has pioneered the understanding of communications since the 1960s. He received his PhD from Clark University and in l964 commenced an extended career of teaching and research at the University of California, Los Angeles. He currently devotes his time to research, writing, and consulting as Professor Emeritus of Psychology, UCLA. Mehrabian's work featured strongly (mid-late 1900s) in establishing early understanding of body language and non-verbal communications.

Aside from his many and various other fascinating works, Mehrabian's research provided the basis for the widely quoted and often much over-simplified statistic for the effectiveness of spoken communications.

Here is a more precise (and necessarily detailed) representation of Mehrabian's findings than is typically cited or applied:

  • 7% of message pertaining to feelings and attitudes is in the words that are spoken.
  • 38% of message pertaining to feelings and attitudes is paralinguistic (the way that the words are said).
  • 55% of message pertaining to feelings and attitudes is in facial expression.

The following is a more common and over-simplified interpretation of Mehrabian's findings, which is quoted and applied by many people to cover all communications - often without reference to Mehrabian, although Mehrabian's work is the derivation.

It is understandable that many people prefer short concise statements, however if you must use the simplified form of the Mehrabian formula you must explain the context of Mehrabian's findings. As a minimum you must state that the formula applies to communications of feelings and attitudes.

Here's the overly-simplistic interpretation. Where you see or use it, qualify it, in proper context.

  • 7% of meaning in the words that are spoken.
  • 38% of meaning is paralinguistic (the way that the words are said).
  • 55% of meaning is in facial expression.

Other important contextual and qualifying details are:

Mehrabian did not intend the statistic to be used or applied freely to all communications and meaning.

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Q&A

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Do not underestimate the powers of nonverbal factors as you testify. Dr. Albert Mehrabian concluded that communication is made up of several components

Do not underestimate the powers of nonverbal factors as you testify. Dr. Albert Mehrabian concluded that communication is made up of several components: What is said-the actual words spoken (7% of the total message communicate). How it is said-tone of voice, pitch, modulation and like (38% of the message) Nonverbal factors- body language, gestures, demeanor (55%).


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