My sister just sent me a link to "the effects of mobile telephones on social and individual life" by Dr. Sadie Plant, a report for Motorola.
Just reading it now... There is a section on the body language of people on mobile phones. Do you adopt the speakeasy pose or the spacemaker pose? Do you have the firm grip or the light touch? Do you have the scan or the gaze. ;-) I wonder what you can tell about the person by how they interact with their mobile phones...
I'm a spacemaker-scanner with the light touch usually... but I think it changes based on my environment.
Dr. Sadie PlantPublic makers and takers of calls tend to assume one of two bodily postures, both of which extend and reflect the broader observations about introverted and extroverted use. Those who adopt the speakeasy pose keep their heads thrown back and their necks upright, giving out an air of self-assurance and single-minded refusal to be distracted by the outside world. This is an open and expansive position, confident and unapologetic.
The spacemaker is rather more introverted and closed, a gesture of withdrawal, particularly in the context of a busy city street. It provides ways of carving out a private arena, establishing a closed circuit from which all external interference is deliberately and visibly excluded. The head is bowed and inclined towards the phone, and the whole body may be slightly leaning, as though into the phone or towards the disembodied voice. The spacemaker may walk around in circles, stopping and starting in a bodily response to the conversation on the mobile. Many mobile users in this spacemaking mode seek out and improvise such places of comfort and relaxation from which to take or make their calls. It was observed in the course of this research that many people sitting down in public spaces – at cafe tables, for example, or on park benches – tend to draw their bodies up, take their feet off the ground, or otherwise create a feeling of safety and withdrawal. Alternatively, the body may be turned away from the world, perhaps towards a corner, or a wall, or even – as observed on several occasions in Hong Kong, an unused telephone kiosk – as though to protect the conversation. To this end, the spacemaker often involves the use of two hands: one to hold the mobile to the ear, and the other to block out any real or imagined external noise. In Japan, people often use one hand to shield their mobile and their mouth from public view.
Those who adopt such positions are also more likely to hold their mobile phones in the firm grip, with one hand clasping the mobile to the ear, as though it were about to fly away. By way of contrast, other mobile users adopt the light touch, in which the mobile is held with the fingers rather than the hand, in the deft or dainty pose reminiscent of the various ways of holding a cigarette.
Those who use their mobiles with this light touch often have their index finger aligned with the aerial at the top of the phone. There are also variations in the ways in which people’s eyes respond to a mobile call. Some mobile users adopt the scan, in which the eyes tend to be lively, darting around, perhaps making fleeting contact with people in the vicinity, as though they were searching for the absent face of the person to whom the call is made. With the gaze, the eyes tend to focus on a single point, or else to gaze into the distance, as though in an effort to conjure the presence of the disembodied voice.