Secrets of Body Language

Secrets of Body Language

2008, Psychology  -   82 Comments
Ratings: 7.62/10 from 341 users.

Whether we're watching an important address from a national politician, gawking at movie stars as they conduct interviews on the red carpet, or simply engaging in conversation with one of our friends, we can't always find the truth in what we hear. Much more may be communicated to us through a posture, a glance or a physical interaction. In fact, studies show that 93% of all human communication is physical in nature.

Calling upon the expertise of those who specialize in these forms of non-verbal communication, Secrets of Body Language attempts to reach a deeper understanding of some of the most prominent moments in history and tabloid culture. While the cameras roll, it is human instinct to put on a confident pose of strength and openness, but our body language can easily betray these good intentions. This is never truer than in the world of politics where the illusion of cooperation can often mask great anxiety, uncertainty and discord.

The film shows us several examples of this, including the summit meetings between United States President Bill Clinton, President of the Palestinian Authority Yasser Arafat and Israeli prime minister Ehud Barak which took place at the dawning of the new millennium, and President Richard Nixon's offerings of transparency while in the throes of the Watergate scandal more than two decades earlier. In each instance, the simplest pat on the back, crossing of arms across the chest, quiver in the voice, speed of a footstep or stance during a handshake illustrates underlying tensions and doubt.

The celebrity-driven portions of the documentary, which are dominated by the likes of Britney Spears, Paris Hilton, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, are vacuous and amusing examples of fluff at best. More consequential are the segments which spotlight the non-verbal traits of successful world and business leaders, salespeople who excel at closing a deal, or to members of the New York Police Department whose instincts for reading body language could mean the difference between life and death.

Fast-paced and engrossing, Secrets of Body Language is a fascinating study of human nature, and of how our actions really do speak louder than words.

Directed by: James Millar

More great documentaries

82 Comments / User Reviews

  1. J. Navarro

    As a published author on the subject of nonverbal communication, I found this documentary almost child-like in it's simplicity. The obvious political bias over-shadowed the few valid points made, while most were flat-out wrong. Where do these people get their accreditation?

  2. alexander_lion

    Video description says it's 90 mins but the video itself is only 59 mins and ends mid-sentence. Welp...

  3. Krishna

    Video is not available

  4. DustUp

    Schools intentionally endeavor to create generations of people who are controlled by their emotions rather than by reason, so they will fall for the wrong politician; their trained politician that knows how to trigger such emotions. That was obama. Those of us who were older or somehow sidestepped the emotional indoctrination of the school system could tell obama was lying most of the time just by listening to him lie.

    One wonders how many innocent people have been shot by a cop's split second misinterpretation of a person's body language? How many wrongly convicted by a judge due to misinterpreting body language?

    One has great hope that there are reasonable people in this world by reading a number of the first comments.

    Chuckling at what a university person calls "solid academic research." Which amounts to repeating what they've been told regarding studies conducted on the emotionally trained/indoctrinated and extrapolating the results into meaning MUCH more than it does.

    For instance, if I take my basket of groceries up to the checker and have a frown on my face am I upset with that checker? ...or all the prior checkers who bounced my fruit like a soccer ball? Or am I perturbed with the price gouging? Or am I thinking of how the guy on the drive to the store cut me off an almost caused an accident? Or the guy behind me who thinks crowding me will make things move faster so they can race home to sit down and relax? Or how the very uncool professor in my last class belittled another student who wasn't the best speaker and couldn't defend them-self, for having a very good point that went against the professor's vacuous ideology of agreeing with another student's comment that it is proper to behead people who don't conform to the Q'ran?

    Psychologists endeavor to pigeonhole everyone. That is ridiculous to expect a person to react as you would. You are not in their shoes. People eat differently, raised differently, think differently, etc. and yet this brain trust want their clients to believe what they are selling.

    Now if most all of what was described was true, it merely means the schools and the parents aren't teaching the kiddos worthwhile things. Makes me think folks under 45 or so should not be able to vote because the wrong things are important to them. "I like the salesman with the great body language!" "I like obama because he said "change" and we need change!" I heard that several times and I asked, "Change to what?" The answer I got was, "I don't know but I know we need change..." Moronic at best. They ASSUMED it was change for the better when it was a govt power and money grab. A change to marxism. Conning people into believing that govt is good and will be nicer than having a choice between (corporations or choosing none of the above) and what the govt dictates. When in fact govt is and always has been the bigger the tyrant the bigger it gets a big corporation on steriods. Like giving hand grenades to children, pulling the pins, telling them to hold the thing and then walking away. Eventually bad things happen when you give power to govt. and children. Using the body language logic that means that govt is childlike.

  5. VPetronio

    I've taught Interpersonal Communication at the University level for over 38 years and this documentary is spot on. To be specific about the 93%... between 65% and 93% of the meaning of a message is conveyed nonverbally. The 93% is the emotive content.. how we feel about it. These numbers were not pulled out of the air but solid academic research.

  6. Dee

    Don't shoot the messenger! CHEESE :)

  7. Dee

    Although I realize these people have writers who do their manuscripts for them, I found this extremely helpful in every aspect of what I needed it for. Please keep in mind people aren't always fair and can be very cruel and judgemental esp. over a clandestine source of communication such as the computer some seem to grow burro juevos. Also I notice some trying to put down this work as an opportunity to promote anothers and I've been there and it's nothing to write home about the website suggestion begins with P..however, I'm not going to be rude. We are all entitled to our opinions and yes much of these things are subjective but that's okay. Watch it for yourselves and develop your own opinion. You never know-could be cheating yourself! Just saying maintain composure obviously something was exciting enough to get a rise! I'm allowed to change my mind as well just as everyone else.unfortunately I do not have time to read all of these ..but please respect the author as a human being. I've researched for 3 weeks now and the 93% is a majority it may include a couple of different kinds of gestures but its still nonverbal. Have a wonderful life!!!!!! MUAH

  8. Dee

    This is all staged . They have writers who write for them the body mvts r learned /like acting/notice politicians mostly use the fist gesture & put their hands 2gether w/their fingers. I've done TV stuff .its all acts. politics r corrupt. wen or if we ever get a GOOD moralistic person they'll find a way 2 get rid of them. Obama skipped hoops cuz the big O backed him. His everything is questionable & hes overridden more bills in congress than any1 b4 like he really owns the place.We've seen & heard truth if we look 4 it/its been released.unfortunately the voting system isn't right. Look at history/repeats itself. Lastly, If u learn all the skills then U can actually Con people n2 thinking n believing ur someone ur not! The leaks, the history, truth, govt tells us wat they want. Unless whistleblowers come out they have the power. Give a man power & u will C true character. I know some1 I'd love to get n a public forum w/Hilary just 2 interrogate her. she escapes questions always..but this person she would probaly try to hire & he'd turn her down! She knows if u can't best them join them. Did U see any white pp on her commercials at all?She's not active in civil rights altho she's old enough to have been. Where was she then? When African Americans were oppressed? 1 day he will get the chance to ask 1 question 2 Hilary & thats all it will take she will not get off that hook without answering or passing out. Politicians cannot be trusted. Everything they do is a rehearsed speech and learned communication skills 2 send certain signals. Poor us. Remember those text and dont 4 get the lewinsky scandal..almost every President has had a scandal.If not he most likely didnt get caught.messages, tapes, look at the documentaries. Unbelievable.& shld anything terrible happen these pp will be safe screw every1 else. They will not even disclose wat we need to be ready 4 . Im sure they know. Who knows theyre probably behind it has been done-history.Theyre just going to keep pissing countries off til were not safe in our homeland it sems. I hate following politics I also hate conflict & chaos & unfairness. We are all HUMAN.

  9. Jeffrey

    This was so annoying to watch, I didn't watch it till the end. The over-exaggerating was insane. And they almost only discussed the presidents of the united states, to show you that presidents do lie!

  10. Caroline Fifi

    Now let's all watch Larry Silverstien's famous, post 9/11 video on PBS and watch a liar in action.

  11. Andre Moreson

    I wonder what would transpire if these body language specialists analyse Bush, Blair, Chenye and Rumsfeld speeches, talking about and justifying war based on the weapons of mass destruction that they were purportedly so sure of, yet has not been found to this day in Iraq.

    I wonder I do.

  12. DrKnowone

    You guys! "Just Thinking" needs to just stop
    Ok, pretty good doc but Leslie comments are really spot on.

  13. Just Thinking

    You Guys! These people are so biased politically they clearly have lost all objectivity and credibility as "experts"....Seems they steered clear of what those who knew him personalty as a teenager in Hawaii would declare as the largest liar walking the planet...your current POTUS was known among his acquaintances as a habitual liar even when he had nothing to gain by his dishonesty...why overlook to assess the elephant in the living-room but you reach back 40 plus years into Nixon? As if LBJ or Kennedy wouldn't blow up their little machines. How about asking your President something as simple as, "why is your Social Security number that of a dead women from New England?" and then work forward from there as to why no one in his class at Columbia (students and profs) have no recollection of him? Or maybe ask him why he would spend several hundred dollars of his own money to hire personal lawyers to prevent us from seeing his college transcripts?...Suppose that only seems odd to those of us who take personally the systematic dismantling of our Constitution by him and his thugs in the W.H.....oh ya, maybe I'm forgetting that this was done in 2008...back then you all were drinking his Cool-aid by the after Benghazi, IRS, and "If you like your insurance policy you can keep it", along with the brutal fact that you all were his useful idiots by not vetting him and then facilitating his obtaining office just to find out that his idea of "spreading things around" meant those gullible young patsies who put him in office will now get to subsidize us older people's skyrocketing health care costs...thanks guys...couldn't have paid for it on my own! Sure glad there are no "death Panels" in the works hey?

  14. Leslie Payne Simmons-Hale

    We are just too interested in celebrities and people in power. I want to know what people in general are thinking and what the body language means...more of that.

  15. Rafa? ?wita?a

    No s*it ! It has been started. The new channel called Hidden Inteligence witch provides to you videos like a nlp, body language(full), behaviour and many many other's.
    Enjoy It !

    1. cale

      lets hope its stays hidden

  16. AntiTheist666

    This is an excellent doc that I enjoyed immensely. The examples
    through history are especially revealing and includes items on Churchill, Roosevelt, Stalin, Kennedy, Nixon, Thatcher, Blair, Bush, Putin, Clinton and many others. In these days of so much sound bite politics it is a big advantage to know what is really going on behind the words with a little knowledge of body language and micro expressions. I’d really love to see a TV programme that displays this lie recognition software as interviews are taking place. I don’t think there would be many takers for it though as even one of the experts was caught out by it.

    The doc also deals with how criminals are caught out by their lies and how reading body language can save the lives law of enforcement officers and the general public. Speaking of crims, Mr. Insincerity Sucks (Tony Blair) is shown up as the manipulative fraud that he obviously was to many people but because of his acting/pantomime skills he got away with it for 3 elections. The bumbling used car salesman was more genuine and believable.

    The most fascinating part for me was the section on the voice and how tone, pitch and rhythm play an important part in what we’re saying. This was demonstrated using Maggie Thatcher (The Milk Snatcher) as an example of how her shrill voice changed into a lower, huskier one. The impressionist who suggested that it was a sexy voice made me scream at my screen, NO, NO, NOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!

  17. Jojojojo Balasabas

    if to anticipate what this docu shall be all about - that is, without running thru it first - allow me to pose this one question, thus: might this supposedly decoding of body movements to mean as language, per se, an information conveyed, indeed, exactly what the actor/doer intends and not what the receiver (subjectively) interpreted them to be? although, the whole process of communication for which language, after all, was devised gets complete only after the feed-back process when the sender receives back and affirms or denies the receiver's understanding of the sender's intended meaning.
    and, if therefore, the supposedly subconsciously sent information is received so consciously by some hyper-conscious individuals, perhaps; meaning must be from the the hyper-conscious receiver and not from the supposed sender. in other words, the receiver has just placed words into the supposed sender's mouth!
    should this be the case, indeed, the hypothesis this docu purports is erroneous in the first place and thereby the good likelihood is that whatever conclusion is derived from it will have to be absurd, at best!

  18. Linroy Johnson

    This is a realistic documentary. People are just to arrogant to understand or even to analyze the inputs of these excerpts.

  19. Simon Fish

    Still a very interesting doco!

  20. Simon Fish

    What a ridiculous claim. 93% of our communication is through body language? How do we manage to communicate through emails and on the telephone then? Idiotic claim. Reverse the stats and I could believe it.

    1. Asdft

      Oh believe it. My mother in law is the dark lord of manipulation. Not only does she get what she wants in the end but it'll be your idea.

    2. chasmccl

      I agree. If 93% of communication is nonverbal than communicating with somebody who does not speak English should be no problem, right?

    3. A

      93% of FACE-TO-FACE communication.

  21. isatou1

    dont get me wrong... i believe that body language is very very important, and i think a lot of us look and study our peers, family members, and co workers without us knowing that we are doing it. each and one of us like to think we recognize when someone is lying to us, may it be not making eye contact when talking, or folding there hands around themselves etc.

    she claimed that over 90% of how we communicate is due to our body language, there is perhaps some truth in that. i like to believe that.

    have you ever been far away and studied how to individuals talk to one and another, its remarkable but you can almost SEE "study" the situation just by their body language.

    i am very interested in this and thank to whoever got it on this page....

  22. V_rohella

    I think there's a great bit of truth in all this. our expressions and gestures often betray the subconscious.

  23. Choom Gang

    I'm not buying 50% of this crap.

    1. isatou1

      dont watch! simple really

  24. Paula C. Miceli

    Thanks for a great film - some really important aspects have been raised for consideration....

  25. ProudinUS

    Oh man, am I ever so glad I learned about this body language s**t. I think I'll try it out in a super market tommorrow with a presentation of me scratching my nuts with one hand and brutally smacking my a$$ with the other.

    1. mike maccarthy

      lol i wouldnt go that far

  26. ildiraaleani

    There is a lot of validity to this soft science. Sadly, we do judge by how people look and we do physically respond to emotional changes. What'd I'd like to see is more of these "experts" and their interpretations of body language BEFORE we know the verdict of things. I think it's easy for them to pick apart an event that we already know the outcome of. That would determine their value more... otherwise, any peanut gallery can sit and pick others apart when we already know if the person is guilty or not.

  27. Risa Ha

    I love this documentary, people can give so much away just from they're tone of voice, facial expressions and gestures. Learning and being able to read them all would certainly be most interesting!

  28. Svetlana Vigliaturo

    Was so glad that gave it a try regardless seemingly ready to sell title. Means of communication including body language and para-linguistic cues is a very powerful set of tools, and no matter what you are and who you are, if you want to succeed in life you have to master those tools or at least to put them into use. The film is a good application for that. Though unlike all those numerous couching to success programs this documentary would not give you ready to use instructions what to do and how to do it, it would rather offer a pretty knowledgeable analysis of where this or that tool was used and why it was used successfully. This doc. is not for users, but rather more for thinkers. For someone it may seem too boring, but anyway it never hurts to give it a try, as it may be the one where you can find the answers to some of your questions...

  29. James B. Easter

    The less said the better. And quit twitchin yor eyeballs, genious

  30. StevenLJones

    Look at the first example closely of Putin and Bush. Putin has a bad back. That explains his gate. It's because he's favoring his back. Look at the expression of pain on his face when he reaches the podium. 2nd example. Seems everyone was laughing? Interesting but who's dominate is the one with the most weapons, the most cash etc. I mean who actually watches this crap anyway when world leaders meet? It's what people do unconsciously not what some coach has taught them. What it tells me is how really insecure they are. All we need lessons on how to be totally phony win friends and influence people.

  31. Anwiya Youkhanna

    We shouldn't elect people based on their smiles. What kind of ignorant bull**** are we running here people?

    1. Melanie Chircop

      so true, but I believe this does play an important subconscious role.

  32. His Forever

    That's was very interesting. I'm sure I'd do poorly in politics; I just can't lie with a strait face!

  33. Son Goku

    Body language is in the eye of the one who judges it. Yes body language does speak leaps and bounds, yet you cannot expect to really come to any clear conclusion on what the body language means. It's all based on interpretation.

    1. Anwiya Youkhanna

      Exactly, it depends on the conciousness of individual. Some people are auditory learners, and therefore are better listeners than visual observers.

    2. Melanie Chircop

      I don't agree fully with this statement. There are some expressions that are common in all people regardless of age, gender, culture. It's just a matter of interpreting them in the correct manner.

    3. charmmykitty

      No it's not subjective, it's subconscious and neurological and unless someone is coached to do otherwise they'll most likely do what's natural to them especially if they are on the spot and under pressure.

    4. Jacek Walker

      Politicians usually are coached and to the very extend manner.
      But it doesn't matter in their cases as we know exactly that ALL politicians are pathological liars.

  34. « - - -

    I like the way the producers used our sense interpretations thru our senses

  35. apaulocreed

    Very little Movement above Bush's shoulders indeed.....Definitely none between the ears!

  36. sarah post

    Awesome documentary!

  37. da

    LOL!!!! "Almost a physical fight" in middle east culture the person on the right side of you is suppose to go in first and people fight about it because it symbolizes respect for the other person. Thats what those two retards(yasser,barak) were fighting about...this goes to show that these idiots don't know what there talking about.

  38. 333dave333

    all subjective; the pundits are talking nonsense.

  39. BeardHero420

    This show proves nothing.

    You wanna be a human lie detector? All it takes is experience; the more people you meet, the more bullshit you can smell.

    1. Jacek Walker

      True. experience and awareness.
      What a shame that one doesn't have it yet while young. It could have spared so much unnecessary troubles...

  40. crimepays15

    hitler was the the first great speaker most great speakers today learned from him.....

    1. tomregit

      "hitler was the the first great speaker most great speakers today learned from him....."
      The first??? He could whip up a crowd, but I think there may have been numerous great orators before him. His contemporary, Churchill, could turn a phrase as well.

    2. Guest

      From what I understand Hitler in his earlier days was a terrible speaker and knew it. He hired a speech coach and the result is what we see on films today.

    3. Epicurus

      therefore speech coaches are evil.

    4. Guest

      Well that one was.

  41. Fealasy

    While I was at first terrified with this being a History Channel Doc, I still gave it a go and found myself enjoying it, simple as it might be. I read quite a fan of psychology and behavioral books and while this doc won't bring anything new to the table for you, it still works on the basic that they show clips of famous chases (Some of which I read about, but never saw on video) and debate them - The level of cheap cutting and bad music is low and even their "Experts" behave tolerable most of the time. - 7/10 - Nice for watching while doing something else on the side.

  42. Guest

    Stylized penile display.
    (more an art than a science.)

    1. knowledgeizpower

      Well alrighty then I fully support Artistic view points uh oh what kind of discussion am I getting myself into lol...well at least on topic lol

    2. BeardHero420

      nailed it :)

  43. WiseGapist

    Damn, you guys did not like this^ almost as bad as the atheists descending on some pro-Christianity doc...

    I thought for a bit of light entertainment this doc wasn't the worst I've seen (for those you have look at the UFO documentaries in Mystery). Yes it was tacky American cable TV editing and narration, but there were elements of truth there (maybe not the 93% stat^). I wouldn't agree that body language analysis as a whole is complete pseudo science, as Mário Silvério posted, it's an old concept but the science wasn't in this doc. Some of Derren Brown's writing on it is quite interesting, though I won't bore you with it!

    1. Guest

      I would like to have seen more science also. We all inherently use and perceive body language.

      I was at a friend's house yesterday and she was on the phone contesting a charge on her bank statement. You would think she was talking face to face. She was pointing, rolling her eyes, putting her hand on her hip, shrugging her shoulders, etc. We had a good laugh about it later.

  44. geamala

    An hour and a half of this? No thanks...

  45. LisaCanta

    obama is the best at using voice tone and rythm to trick people into following him, it almost doesnt even matter the content of what hes saying. knowing how to do that is a really good tool especially when people nowadays are fooled so easily by image...know how to sound genuine and give good speeches (tell people what they want hear) and youve pretty much won over any american crowd.
    actually on a website called 'who would the world vote for' in the 2008 election, almost every country voted for Ron Paul. meanwhile in america people had barely even heard of the guy, because he wasnt shown in the media and isnt as good at public speaking. that alone proves how politics really work and that its really all about image.
    think about how many times obama used the word 'change'...he used it to drill it into peoples heads like an annoying commercial repeats its product's name.
    'change=come help a n***** get elected' LMAO

    1. tomregit

      You can call him a n*****, but if I call you a dumb c*** it will be lost in moderation......probably.
      Edit: Oops, didn't think that would get through. Oh, well, learn something every day!

  46. Per Sommer

    all fake

  47. BlackDog Aura

    i heard that if record what people say and slow it down and play it backwards. . . . . . . . . .. .

  48. adilrye

    Whoa, so from the negative comments, I should skip this doc? It seemed quite interesting from the description. But it seems to be getting some pretty bad reviews.

    One problem RIGHT off the bat is that if you're analyzing the body language and coming to conclusions of people like Angelina Jolie and Richard Nixon, where you know their stories and the lies they may be trying to hide, it's a lot less impressive to say you've discovered anything about them solely from body language. You're applying what you know to their situation.

  49. Mário Silvério

    The secrets of body language is interesting but not new. This kind of stuff is used by all the criminologists in the world to understand and find clues in statements and investigations. Would like to see how all this started, specially how physiognomy has played a role in the study of human interaction.

    If you are into a news like doc, then go for it. If you are more into the specifics and science, then dont waste your time.

  50. Kyle Verkuil

    wow only 15 min and so much pseudo bullshit. if some of these frauds are paid more than me, then there is hell to pay :)

  51. Guest

    I find the stated premise that body language is 93% of communication to be very suspect.

    1. Mantid

      I agree.

    2. capriciouz

      Totally agree. If anything, they reported the supposed "statistic" backwards.

  52. Santiago Jarrín

    I think is a shame that people could take this seriously, i recommend other documentary "the problem with experts" or something similar here in tdf. What an "expert" says is the truth must not be taken as the truth, just because someone says he is an expert.

  53. Aaylsworth

    I was an hour into it and then realized and said to myself "what is an hour and a half?!" wow this is boring, would be a good watch if you have nothing better to do....

  54. Søren Dahse

    fahad: well thanks for sparing me a watch then, cause thats what I hoped this what about. not that im in dire need, but its always fun to watch stuff you think you can improve yourself with, if just a bit. but guess not!

  55. Patricio Mariano Olmo


  56. Amira Esk

    there have been studies conducted proving that body language isn't what people think it is... also, it doesn't reveal what some 'body language experts' decide it does.. At best it's a very flawed science..

  57. knowledgeizpower

    well alright guess one person was dissappointed. This was not too bad but not too great either it is things you pretty much should already know about body language eye contact etc. Okay so I did not really care for the susan smith part I don't know how anyone could not see she was lying seriously...Peace

  58. fahad al-MunaYes

    this was a very disappointing documentary i thought it was all about self help turned out to be mostly bullshit , i don't mean that body language is stupid or anything i'm just saying this documentary concentrates on all the stupid things of body language , if you wanna learn good body language check pua forums now those people got social interactions and body language figured out

    1. Rene Slaats

      You might change the title in: "Acting course for politicians"...
      I found it a rather tunnel-viewed and technical media-performance and would have appreciated a more scientific approach.

    2. Robert

      Hey Fahad,

      Your oppinion is normal since you were searching something to teach you a step by step on how to control your body, at least that is what I understand from your speech. Put this movi in another context and you'll see that it is actually ok to watch for a light and entertaining review on body language