Functions of Smell

In the current issue of Wired (May 2014) there’s a brief article on Menssana Research and their efforts to detect sickness from breath samples. According to their website, they do NOT provide diagnostic tests for disease but instead a breath test to tell you if you don’t need to get more tests. So, for example, in the case of a lung cancer test, if the breath test is negative, the person need not go for additional tests. If the test is positive, then additional testing (such as a chest CT) is needed.  We do something similar when we make judgments about someone having, say, an upset stomach from their bad breath.
So, in The Nonverbal Communication Book the four functions of smell that I identify--to attract others, to aid taste, to aid memory, and to create an image—need to be increased to add: to detect illness and well-being.

Partial Apologies

Here is a study from the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology that shows that partial confessions/apologies may actually increase the guilt a person experiences. The reason, it seems, is that guilt is created by the lying implicit in the partial confession and this is added to the guilt felt over the original transgression. It's unlikely that this will apply in all such situations and a full confession--depending on the situation--may actually increase the interpersonal problems. We see this on Maury and Jerry Springer and similar shows where a guest confesses to, say, a one-time affair but the lie detector reveals multiple affairs. The confessor may indeed experience added guilt for lying but this is likely to be minor compared to the interpersonal problems the couple now confronts. So, while partial confessions may create added guilt, this does not mean that we should advise total confession in all situations. This "added guilt" is just one additional factor that needs to be considered when thinking about and framing apologies or confessions.

The Charm of Three

Here’s an interesting research study by Suzanne Shu and Kurt Carlson—Journal of Marketing, January 2014, 78, pp. 127-139--that argues that 3 claims is the optimal number for a persuasive presentation. They call it the “charm of three.”  When a speaker uses more than three, listeners may become skeptical. 


Public Speaking Notes

Here's a great example to remind students to organize and rehearse their speech and to keep their notes in order: 


Body Language

Take a look at this Body Language infographic. It was created by and sent to me by Brietta Mengel. Thank you, Brietta.  It should make for interesting discussions in interpersonal communication or in nonverbal communication, even with the old (and greatly misused) Mehrabian study.