Baseline Demeanor

Standard. 1. The inventory of gestures and postures observed in relaxed settings which are free of social anxiety or stress. 2. Nonverbal behaviors observed in solitary subjects, who may be reading, snacking, or watching TV. 3. Those nonverbal cues presented during the initial "friendly" phase of an interview or interrogation, as opposed to those given off in the subsequent "stress" phase.

Usage: Before assigning a significance or a specific meaning to a body movement (e.g., as a sign of deception), it is necessary to make preliminary and follow-up observations of the subject's baseline demeanor. Tense individuals, e.g., may chronically self-touch, which makes the latter cue a less likely indicator of acute or situational stress (e.g., in response to a question asked at a probing point). Sociocultural background (i.e., ethnicity), gender differences, and neurological factors (see AKINESIA, NLD) should be noted as items of baseline demeanor as well.

Observation note. Body-motion behaviors not recorded in the baseline phase may carry special weight as signs of hidden attitudes, unvoiced moods, deceit, disagreement, and/or uncertainty.

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