Can YOU hear ME now?

Published May 19, 2020

Know someone who does a lot of hand-waving while talking? (Interrupt an Italian grandmother while she’s cooking if you don’t know what I mean.)


Old assumption: People do it to add visual emphasis to what they’re saying*.

New study (out of UConn): It’s actually to change the tone of your voice, which happens when you move your hands.

Because of the way the human body is constructed, hand movements influence torso and throat muscles. Gestures are tightly tied to amplitude. Rather than just using your chest muscles to produce air flow for speech, moving your arms while you speak can add acoustic emphasis.

* New Yorkers will also use hand gestures when the horn is broken, but that’s another story
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