9 – HUMAN BEHAVIOUR in Expression and Communication

Post 39 -by Gautam Shah (Blog 9 in lecture series Space and Human Behaviour)


A space is confirmed (altered) or designed for the purpose of a behavioural setting. One intuitively exploits and cognizes the current spatial assets and environmental provisions, and then consciously continues to modify it.

Confirmed Space for Behavioural setting > Flickr Image by filtran > https://www.flickr.com/photos/filtran/3231576929/

Behavioural responses for expression and communication use functional elements such as: tools, amenities, facilities and structures. The characteristic style of architecture and interior space configurations inspires many to express and communicate. The Environmental conditions like illumination, acoustics and comfort affect the nature of expression and thereby the communication. Expression and communication are personal processes and are in consideration of Physical characteristics of the participants such as age, sex, experience, body posture, mental adequacy and maturity, time and distance, nature of need, compulsions, disposition, etc.

Suraj kund crafts festival India > Wikipedia image by Cordavida

Behavioural expressions extensively use spatial-environmental features, architectonic elements, amenities and facilities. Expressions are aided by the contextual conditions like spatial form, shape, size, scale, environment and surface materials. Other aids include referencing through position, orientation, background vs foreground, angle and nature of perceptibility, degree of sufficiency for various body functions (reach capacity, comfort, metabolisms, etc.). These aids simplify, amplify, de-intensify, amalgamate, compact, quicken or retard the rate and contents of expression. In absence or dilution of these ‘effects’ the expression may not be very operative.

Unconscious Behaviour > Pixabay Image by nguyentuanhung > https:// pixabay.com/en/people-market-shopping-street-262886/

Human Behaviour, intentionally and automatically reflect the responses to internal or external events. The behavioural reactions to someone or something are in discrete or overt form. The responses are revealed through body positions, orientations, movements, postures, gestures, spatial distancing from other objects and beings, usage and avoidance of reach and support tools. The revelations of feelings occur even before one makes an effort to do so, and sometimes in spite of the conscious effort to suppress them. The exposition, must occur under certain protocol and situational conditions.

Body Language > Flickr Image by filtran > https://www.flickr.com/photos/filtran/ 2710638876

Behavioural responses are intentional or automatic. Intentional ones are rational borne out of reasoning, knowledge or purpose. Others are automatic, resulting from physiological processes such as injury, pain, pleasure, metabolisms etc. Both types of responses could be so subtle that the person expressing or the party perceiving it may not be aware of it. The responses could be also of short duration, insignificant, suppressed or concealed. Involuntary responses are reflexion of personal behaviour. ‘The behavioural responses expose the changes occurring in a human being and could also in turn influence the behaviour’.

Auto reaction behaviour > Flickr Image by Thomas Leuthard nju deli#12 > https://flickr.com/photos/thomaslethard/16324789904

Intentional behaviour has a purpose of informing, recording, recollecting, inciting, convincing, putting forth an argument, generating feedback, forcing, showing feelings, ideas, thoughts, opinions, re-experiencing, recollecting, abridgement, elaboration or re-enactment of a happening.

Unintentional behaviour > She is not with a mobile but unconsciously copies other person’s stance > Flickr image by Gideon > https://www.flickr.com/photos/malias/2613512932

Intentional behaviour is expressed effectively through the body’s movements, gestures and postures. Expression as an impromptu process is accompanied with use of learnt or improvised behaviour. Behavioural learning can manifest on recollection of the event any time later, and may be used for some other situation. When one is aware of being observed directly by another human being or a device, the expressions are masked, suppressed or reformatted. Such acts are also carried out by time-management, such as hastening or delaying the expression and by putting out diversionary behaviour.

Pixabay image > Legs > https://pixabay.com/en/legs-walking-walk-lims-motion-19759/

Expressions within a geographical-social-political area or community have some degree of commonality due to their progression to metaphoric vocabulary. Such forms become classical expressions due to very intense, frequent usage and abstractions. Classical forms become formal language for intentional and to some extent subconscious expressions. Behavioural expressions have become means of communication. Expressions used for communication are intentional. Expression for communication may be ‘unintentional’ that is not occur for any particular audience. Expressions for aesthetic satiation are always intentional. Expressions for aesthetic satiation occur through representative forms like singing, writing, art, craft, etc. The intent here is communication of an abstract content, either for personal satisfaction or an audience.

Flickr Image by Marko Kudjerski IMG_ 4968 > https://flickr.com/photos/marko8904/8230612385/

Behavioural responses communicate information. The ‘direct channel’ transmits information with some purpose. Direct channels are under control of the sender and receiver. Direct channels use both, verbal, and non verbal means. The ‘indirect channel’ transmits information that is not controlled by the sender, though perceived subliminally or subconsciously by the receiver. The indirect channels use the non verbal means such as the kinesics or body language. Here there may not be an explicit message, but inner emotions and feelings are involved. The receiver may call it a gut feeling, hunch, intuition, or premonition.

You got a mail > Flickr Image by Georgie Pauwels > https://www.flickr.com/photos/frosch50/10858946293

When behaviour is purposive, it allows a person to organize and rationalize the thoughts, record, recollect and rearrange the contents. It also allows one to emphasize and de-emphasize whole or parts of the content. Intentional expressions get improvised the moment a perceiver shows reactions. Though expression, communication and its perception may not happen in same time or space. Expressions for posterity are recorded as writing or image creation, broadcast through a device or recording on a media.

One may make an intentional expression by using body gestures and postures but additionally support it by other sensorial means like vocal and touch. Non-personal or absentia expressions through remote means like telephone, broadcasting or publications use various means of emphasis (or even diffusion) (repeat, highlight, placement, emphasis) to support the expressions. Like for example, speaking face to face or frontal-way is a very direct but can be diffused by slightly off-centric or angular dealing. Similarly a superior delivery position, a static and clear background, appropriate lighting, clothes, etc. reinforce it.

Wikipedia Image

Non verbal Communications

Non verbal communications include postural, gestural and other (endocrines) features: like: facial expressions, eye contact, controllable body movements, metaphoric associations, sounds, odours etc. It also occurs through objects and metaphors, like: clothes, hairdos, architecture, interior, furniture, furnishings, arts, crafts, colour combinations, lighting ambience, signs, symbols, graphics, typography, etc.

Non verbal communication during the interaction operates in the Following contexts. Surroundings like: furniture, architectural styling, interior decoration, amenities, illumination, acoustics, and temperature. Physical characteristics of the communicators such as the age and sex differences, experiences, body posture, mental adequacy and maturity, time and distance as available, nature of need, inclinations, etc., and the behaviours of communicators. Behaviour of the communicators during the interactions, like: transaction to be one way or two-way, communication to be one to one or one to many, the use of feed-forward and feedback mechanisms, etc.


Dance is a metaphoric form of nonverbal communication. It can be abstract form of a self-expression or a very formal vocabulary of movements, steps, postures, mudras, gestures additionally supported by musical rhythm or Tal-beats. All these can become so abstract that there is ambiguity and personal meaning.

Afghanistan Afghan Discussion Talks Communication
Afghans Talk > http://maxpixel.freegreatpicture.com/Afghanistan-Afghan-Discussion-Talks-Communication-887775
Group behaviour in traditional Madagascar society is more of non verbal communication > Pixino.com free images

Verbal communication

Verbal communications use spoken-words or language, and also written and other textual forms of expressions. Verbal expression is substantially coloured by para-language and prosodic features, like the voice quality, rhythm, metre, intonation, stress, pause, emotion and speaking style. Textual expressions have elements such as presentation style of handwriting, graphics, typography or calligraphy.

This is the NINTH lecture in the series Space and Human Behaviour for Winter semester, 2017, at Faculty of Design, CEPT University, Ahmedabad, India.


Published by

Gautam Shah

Former adjunct faculty, Faculty of Design CEPT University, Ahmedabad and Consultant Designer

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