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Verified by Psychology Today

Test Your Body Language IQ

These 15 questions will reveal what you know about our glances and stances.

Blend Images/Shutterstock
Source: Blend Images/Shutterstock

Try these questions to see how much you know about nonverbal communication. The research-based answers follow.

1. In order to distinguish a true (Duchenne) smile from a fake smile, you need to focus on the:

  • a. Lips.
  • b. Eyes.
  • c. Eyebrows.
  • d. Cheeks.

2. Which of the following is not one of the basic, universal emotional expressions (according to Paul Ekman's research)?

3. The Pygmalion effect (described by Robert Rosenthal) involves:

  • a. Imitation of another’s nonverbal behavior in order to be more persuasive.
  • b. Using body language to make yourself appear more beautiful.
  • c. The use of body posture in order to appear more dominant.
  • d. Subtly communicating your expectations via nonverbal cues to influence another’s behavior.

4. In order to determine if someone is lying to you, you would be most successful by focusing on which of the following nonverbal cues?

  • a. Eye contact—liars can’t look you in the eye.
  • b. Smiling—it’s a dead giveaway.
  • c. The person’s body instead of his or her face.
  • d. The flaring of nostrils.

5. Mutual gaze is often an indicator of:

  • a. Love.
  • b. Anger.
  • c. Submissiveness.
  • d. Dominance.

6. Body posture is a very good way to communicate:

  • a. Love.
  • b. Disgust.
  • c. Dominance.
  • d. Attitudes.

7. Which of the following is not a cue that indicates it is a good time to take your turn in a conversation?

  • a. A pause.
  • b. A drop in pitch.
  • c. Holding your hand in the air.
  • d. Eye contact.

8. Nonverbal cues of immediacy are used to indicate:

  • a. Superiority.
  • b. Persuasiveness.
  • c. Understanding.
  • d. Intimacy.

True or False?:

9. Extending the middle finger is an obscene gesture in nearly every culture on earth.

10. Olfaction is a form of nonverbal communication.

11. When words and facial expressions are contradictory, we usually give more credence to the words.

12. Research has shown that emotional intelligence and verbal intelligence (IQ) are completely distinct (i.e., they are not correlated).

13. When you are very interested in something (such as another person) research shows that your pupils will dilate.

14. The shape of your face is related to how attractive you are viewed by others.

15. The majority of gestures can be easily translated into the words or phrases they are intended to convey.


  1. B. A true smile (one of happiness) is distinguished because of narrowed eyes and the “crow’s feet” at the corners.
  2. C. Anxiety is not one of the universal emotional expressions.
  3. D. Affecting others’ behavior because of your held expectations (“You can do it!”) is called the Pygmalion Effect.
  4. C. Liars tend to control their verbal and facial cues, so cues to deception “leak” through body cues.
  5. A. Gazing into one another’s eyes is a good indicator of love.
  6. C. Posture is important in communicating dominance-submissiveness.
  7. C. Holding a gesture is a nonverbal way to keep the floor in a conversation.
  8. D. Cues of immediacy include leaning in, a forward orientation, closeness, and touch, and they indicate liking and intimacy.
  9. False. Such gestures, called “emblems,” vary from culture to culture.
  10. True. All cues, including scents, that are not explicitly verbal in nature are considered nonverbal communication.
  11. False. When searching for “true” meaning, especially in emotions, we look to nonverbal cues.
  12. False. Emotional and verbal intelligence are moderately correlated.
  13. True. Studies have found very subtle pupil dilation in response to objects (or people) we are interested in.
  14. True. See more here.
  15. False. There is no dictionary for nonverbal behavior.


Give yourself 10 points for each correct answer:

  • 140-150 = A body language “genius”
  • 100-130 = A likely “master” of nonverbal communication
  • 70-90 = You may be a better “verbal” communicator
  • 60 or below = Stand up straight, and study your body language

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