The Meaning of Gesture Clusters
Gesture clusters refer to ‘the myriads of attitudes expressed by not one gesture but a series of related ones’ (Nierenberg and Calero, 1975).
Gesture clusters, which are groups of nonverbal communications Opens in new window, are related to different attitudes. We have a cluster when a person talks with his fists clenched, shakes his index finger, and is blushing either due to heat or anger. A person who is preoccupied will cross his arms or legs, bend his head, close his eyes; he may also have his hand in his hand.
The gesturesOpens in new window that combine to make a cluster can occur simultaneously, as crossing the arms, locking the ankles, and making a fist, or can follow one after the other.
Each gesture is like a word in a language. To understand any language, we need to structure the words into units or sentences to obtain their complete meaning. If we isolate the various gestures in a cluster, we will not find it easy to understand the attitude expressed.
Likewise, if we jump to conclusions on our interpretation of an isolated gesture, we could find ourselves making a mistake, because it is very important to understand the ‘congruence’ of gestures, that is, the harmony of gesture, one with another.
We should look for attitudinal gestures that are so similar that they not only endorse one another but serve to make a cluster as well. Gestures cannot be separated from their ‘context’ either.