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The Complete Idiot's Guide to Body Language Paperback – August 3, 2004


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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Peter Andersen, Ph.D, is a tenured professor in the School of Communication at San Diego State University. He has authored hundreds of book chapters, research papers, and journal articles related to body language and non-verbal communication. Dr. Andersen is the author of The Handbook of Communication and Emotion (with L. Guerrero), Nonverbal Communication: Forms and Functions, and Close Encounters: Communicating in Relationships (with L. Guerrero and W. Afifi).

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Product Details

  • Series: The Complete Idiot's Guide
  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Alpha (August 3, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1592572480
  • ISBN-13: 978-1592572489
  • Product Dimensions: 7.4 x 0.8 x 9.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #723,818 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

3.6 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

49 of 50 people found the following review helpful By Jay Frasier on March 2, 2007
Format: Paperback
Let me first briefly mention my background. I hold a Master of Arts in Communication and I teach Speech & Communication Studies at one of the top community colleges in the US. I am fairly well versed in the research literature on nonverbal communication (NVC). I very much disagree with several of the reviewers of this book, though I do agree with the majority. Interestingly enough, I disagree with the reviews that are first seen on the site.

I think this book is awesome! It is the ONLY written-for-regular-people book on general nonverbal communication that I would recommend to others. While I have certainly not read every popular press book on NVC, I have read through at least sections of at least a dozen. All of the ones that I have perused contain ideas that are not supported by actual social scientific research. Dr. Andersen has written a wonderful book on NVC which is actually based upon real research.

(Quick note - there are other books written for regular people which deal with certain aspects of NVC which I would recommend. For example, I would recommend any of the works by Paul Ekman, John Gottman, Deborah Tannen, and Dane Archer; I would also recommend Brian Bates' The Human Face and Malcolm Gladwell's Blink. For a general book on nonverbal communication, though, Dr. Andersen's book is the best I have ever read.)

There are a couple of reasons why I suspect some of the reviewers did not like this book. I don't know that my suspicions are correct, of course. However, here is what I suspect is going on. First, I suspect that those who did not like the book are not aware of the current research in nonverbal communication. I don't mean that in a "snobby" way. Most people don't have the time or inclination to read scholarly journals.
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77 of 88 people found the following review helpful By Zachary W. Taylor on June 11, 2005
Format: Paperback
This book was a waste of time and money. The author spends nearly 350 pages revealing things that are obvious to absolutely anyone. He tell us how smiles usually mean happiness, crying usually means you're sad, and faces that look angry.....CONVEY ANGER! The writing style is painful to read. I assume the writer is in his late 70's but trying to be "hip and with it." There are aweful jokes through out. He also likes lists and bullets that outline painfully obvious body language rules to follow. How do you tell if someone doesn't like how you're touching them? Are they wincing and flinching? Telling you to stop? Crying? It really goes like this. I couldn't finish this book, you shouldn't start it.
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28 of 32 people found the following review helpful By Deborah K. Dobbins VINE VOICE on June 10, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is so basic and boring. It lacks in visual aids and verbal explanation of the few visuals that it does have. I'll save you some money and some 400+ pages... In a nutshell this book says if someone is smiling they are happy, if they frown they are sad, and if their brow is furrowed they are angry. At the moment my brow is furrowed at the waste of time this turned out to be.

'Nuff said.
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24 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Brian H. Spitzberg on September 3, 2004
Format: Paperback
In "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Body Language," Dr. Peter A. Andersen has put an impressive career's worth of scholarly research on nonverbal communication to work in a fun, accessible, and highly practical manner. Unlike many popular press renditions of body language, Dr. Andersen grounds his text in the actual research rather than relying on mere anecdote. Yet, he couches this research in highly enjoyable prose, rich with helpful photographs, activities, suggestions, and variety. It is a model of the "applied art" of writing science for the popular audience.

The book breaks body language into five basic sections: the silent dialog of body language, in which common assumptions and myths are contrasted with the actual nature of nonverbal communication. Section two examines the codes of nonverbal communication, such as the eyes, the face, the body, etc. The third section examines the all-important relationship between nonverbal behavior and the exercise and perception of power. The fourth section examines nonverbal communication in everyday life, such as how body language changes from infancy to adulthood, and how it works in the workplace and classroom. The final section examines nonverbal messages in more exotic contexts such as interacting with pets, nonverbal messages in advertisements, and the role of nonverbal communication in culture.

The book is delightful to read, comprehensive, and grounded solidly in the state of the art of scientific research.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Erika Trojan on January 17, 2005
Format: Paperback
The Idiot's Guide to Body Language is a must read for anyone who's ever wondered about understanding body language. This book is great for understanding body language in relationships, at work, with your family, and beyond. After reading this book I feel so much more aware of my body language as well as those around me. The Idiot's Guide to Body Language is book about body language that is grounded in theory (not just what some author thinks body language means like many magazine articles) and is accessible to the reader in the great Idoit's Guide format.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Kirsty on January 17, 2005
Format: Paperback
This book brings the complex and confusing world of body language to the reader in an informative, fun, and interesting way.

The author combines communication theory with practical application for your everyday life.

The examples, pictures, and summaries illuminate the text and make the book easy and enjoyable to read.

No where else can you learn as much about body language without reading a boring text book.
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