A blog-post on Social Intelligence – Observing Nonverbal Behavior and Understanding Emotions – by Dr. Sandeep Atre

“People usually find what they look for!”…is the caveat I tell people while training them on observing nonverbal behavior.


Do you know? – While ‘genuine instinctive fear’ increases your ability to read people’s behavior, prejudices decrease it.

Let me explain this through a very interesting research. In 1940s, when anti-Semitism (feeling of hostility and threat against Jews) was at peak, researches (like that by Allport & Kramer, 1946) found that people with strong anti-Semitism were better than neutrals at identifying ‘anonymous Jewish people in photographs or in real-life’.

The reason – as evolutionary psychology would say – was that these people had developed ability to quickly and accurately ‘spot the enemy’, as it aided their survival. Wow, what a wonderful point!

However, when same researches were conducted in 2000s (like that by Andrzejewski, Hall & Salib, 2009), it was found that the people of today’s generation ‘who are anti-Semitic even now’ were less accurate than neutrals at identifying the Jewish people in photographs or in real-life.

Researchers found that apart from the reasons like sampling etc., a major reason behind this difference was that now the anti-Semitic feelings have less to do with genuine threat and more to do with intellectual prejudices. Wow! What a finding!
Yes! Prejudices harm ‘Social intelligence’.
So, if you want to read people accurately, first get rid of your ‘biases and prejudices’.
Dr. Sandeep Atre, Founder Director, Socialigence – Developing Social Intelligence.
www.socialigence.net – Specialized Online Courses and Customized workshops on Observing Nonverbal Behavior and Understanding Emotions

PS: All inputs on observing nonverbal behavior should be applied after establishing the baseline behavior. Also, researches quoted in this blog-post used ‘Jewish’ as a social category and not a racial designation.