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Peoplewatching: The Desmond Morris Guide to Body Language
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Peoplewatching: The Desmond Morris Guide to Body Language

4.06  ·  Rating details ·  1,097 ratings  ·  46 reviews
Peoplewatching is the culmination of a career of watching people - their behaviour and habits, their personalities and their quirks. Desmond Morris shows us how people, consciously and unconsciously, signal their attitudes, desires and innermost feelings with their bodies and actions, often more powerfully than with their words.
Paperback, 544 pages
Published May 2nd 2002 by Vintage (first published 1977)
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4.06  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,097 ratings  ·  46 reviews

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Nandakishore Varma
It is very disappointing that this book does not have more ratings on this site - it is really, really underrated.

I became a fan of Desmond Morris after reading The Human Zoo: A Zoologist's Study of the Urban Animal; an admiration which increased after I read his other books. Anthropology has the criticism raised against it that it is a shallow science. I don't know about that. But I would say it is damn interesting.

In this book, Dr. Morris gives us tips on interpreting human behaviour - and I c
Loy Machedo
Feb 09, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Desmond John Morris – The zoologist, ethologist, anthropologist, painter, television presenter and author, is in my opinion without a doubt one of the world’s best observer, teachers and mentors for anyone who wants to break down, classify and understand the human species.

His book ‘People Watching’ which is a revised, enlarged and expanded version of the 1977 version ‘Man-watching’ is a biblical collection of actions, gestures and physical expressions adopted by people on our planet.

What makes
Jul 15, 2011 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: beginner hobbyist anthropologists
Peoplewatching is a good introduction to the study of human behaviour. Desmond Morris writes as a zoologist studying a species he happens to be particularly fond of. He avoids complex arguments and instead outlines the theories which trace the geneses of modern behaviours.
I gave this book two stars because I didn't gain any practical or usable knowledge from it. Morris does openly state in his introduction that this book is best suited to those who wish merely to observe- and not to manipulate
Nick Davies
Jan 13, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016
I only realised/recalled when adding this to my TBR list that I had in fact previously read a different edition of the same book twenty years ago. This didn't detract from my enjoyment of this, however, it was an interesting and insightful study of human beaviour and a good anthropology/sociology 'primer' in this area.

Desmond Morris discusses numerous examples of human behaviour, focussing particularly on gestures and body language, and makes interesting contrast/comparison between different age
Apr 13, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a really cool book. Desmond Morris ROCKS. He's a zoologist who has written lots of books studying the human being as an animal. So like, why do people act the way they do? Is it because we are an advanced amazing species (perhaps), or because we are acting on animal like instincts?

If you like to sit and watch people walk by in crowded places (who doesn't?!) this is that sort of interesting book. You learn about body language, postural echoing, and... something else I was going to write t
Circul Wyrd
Jan 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If you've watched the TV series "Lie to Me", I think this book was pretty much their playbook. It is just as the title suggests. Sometimes I feel that making too much of a study of our signaling behaviours as a species quickly gets into the realm of TMI (did I really want to know that?), but at the same time it is fascinating. We are, actually, a primate species, and just like one can observe our next-door species' behaviour and know something about what they are signalling, so can we do with ou ...more
Seecko Das
Mar 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Life changing!
Gautam Soman
The book is about human actions, how actions become gestures, and how gestures transmit non-verbal messages.
In short, the book is about the "Body Language."

In a clear, lucid way, the author describes a whole range of our day-to day actions, gestures, movements, signs & signals-- most of which we perform sub-consciously. He explains how people from different communities behave in public and in private, and also analyzes the fundamental patterns that govern typical actions-reactions.
Denise Connolly Connolly
Feb 10, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Really interesting book, read staggered and intermittently and can read chapters out of sync when fully engaged to gain valuable knowledge of universal human body language. So many things in this book I never would have realized until the writer describes i.e. the mannerisms, group dynamics, nationalities, age, relationships, non verbal interactions, how people lie and their tells and everything else imaginable in body language. Have gone back to this book repeatedly over the last few years and ...more
Aug 15, 2016 marked it as to-read
Shelves: a-s-a-p, deaf-studies
Recommended to me by my friend Rich, I hope this book will give me better insight into reading cues on people's movements and enhancing my knowledge on non verbal communication. I'm going to put it on my deaf studies shelf with the books I've read while aspiring to my dream and my career. Body language is one of the most important aspects of communication with the Deaf. So thanks Rich for the recommendation!
Nick Davies
This felt very much like a TV series tie-in (which I assume it was) and wasn't necessarily particularly 'in depth', but Morris did make this a very approachable introduction to sociology - talking about cultural differences, gender differences, and a variety of other areas in the context of subtle signals and gestures etc. that we all do subconsciously as social animals. Interesting stuff, but only a primer to the subject.
Feb 18, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of my favourite books on the behaviour of the human animal. The best section for me was the chapter on religion, which explained to my 13 year old mind (the first time I read the book) why man invented religion. I borrowed the original version from the library, and purchased this version a few years later.
Kathy Doll
Exhaustive study of human body language. Who knew there were so many gestures in common between distant cultures. A super interesting and informative read. I will have to re-read sometime again.
Feb 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
TL;DR Great book about human body language. Bit sciency, not my taste. Still enjoyed reading the mammoth sized book. Took a while as I prefer fiction. Would recommend. 4-6/10.

As a kid I enjoyed reading textbooks and devouring information that almost seemed useless, yet lo and behold: here I was reading what could really pass as a university level textbook again.

But this time, the book was about me.

Let me clarify, Peoplewatching is more a book about the detailed history, and study of human behavi
Oskar Garibaldi
Jun 09, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I wish I had access to this book when I was much younger. I probably could've made enemies into friends and salvaged a few wrecked relationship having known how similar humans are. Body language can be painfully obvious depending on the context, but catching and understanding the subtle messages we are unconsciously projecting is not something easily learned. This book is vital for people living in this present day (2018). We are at the peak of our communication capabilities but use them to pit ...more
Nicholas Whyte
Nov 04, 2017 rated it liked it

It's the 2002 update of the 1977 book Manwatching: A Field Guide to Human Behaviour; Morris grumbles a bit about having to change the title in these new times, but then he gets on with the serious business of looking at different things that we do with our bodies to for specific non-verbal communications - 488 pages worth, with loads of diagrams. To be honest, I found it entertaining rather than enlightening; there is no over-arching theory other than t
Nov 14, 2017 rated it liked it
Comprehensive and interesting, but a bit too clinical, and less entertaining than his other books
Vijay Peddada
Sep 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
Gud book, helped me professionally....
David Shimm
An interesting survey, but not much useful on interpreting body language or facial expression.
Satya Deep
Dec 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
An excellent read which goes much beyond simple people watching to the realm of psychological interpretation of mannerisms and actions.
Antonio Gallo
Il controllo dei gesti inizia da una presa di coscienza. Ecco un esercizio molto semplice, ma molto prezioso. Aprite la mano destra, concentrate il vostro pensiero nel suo centro, poi dolcemente, lentamente, ripiegate le dita ponendo tutta la vostra attenzione in quel movimento finché avrete chiuso il pugno. ..

Fermatevi un istante e concentrate la vostra energia nel pugno, poi lentamente, dischiudete le dita e riaprite la mano… Fate questo esercizio mettendoci tutta la vostra consapevolezza, e v
Shubhadeep Roychowdhury
Oct 08, 2012 rated it really liked it
This book takes a different flight altogether about the way we unknowingly express our inner self while interacting. The way Mr. Morris explained and "Trained" the readers to "read" body languages of human being is very good. If you are a student or a simple enthusiast of Behavioral Science then you would love to read the book. You may not agree with some of his ideas and sometimes they may look as far fetched but overall this book will give you a nice introduction about the field of study.

adri patamoma
Dec 25, 2010 rated it really liked it
o livro começa devagar, falando de muitas coisas que eu já tinha observado nas pessoas, e aí vai se aprofundando, se aprofundando, e falando de hábitos, movimentos, gestos, e outros sinais emitidos pela gente -- é muito legal! o livro é gostoso de ler, e pra quem curte observar as pessoas (como sempre fiz no metrô, nas ruas, nos shoppings, etc), é um prato cheio! pra falar a verdade, o livro acabou e fiquei com vontade de ler mais!
Dionysis Doul
Apr 26, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: biology
Most of the information provided in this book is basic knowledge of the human gestures and body language. The author explains how some gestures have different meanings based on location and provides the history behind some of them.

I wouldn't say that I had any big revelation reading this book or that I learned a lot of new things about human body language, but it was an interesting read anyways.
Colin Pearce
May 16, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Before the motivational speaker with his and her pretence of knowing body language, before Joe Braysich, before Allan Pease, (before me!) there was the scientist and ever so clever Desmond Morris, anthropologist, biologist, zoo-ologist, writer and artist.

You have to take your hat off to someone who dedicated his time and studies to helping us get on with each other, understand each other and to stop looking and acting like apes.
Aug 22, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What a fascinating book! Morris is such an engaging writer about people and their behaviour and this made this book a pleasure to read from cover to cover. Morris looks at a range of human behaviours and explains their emergence and common usage. This book is a must read for anyone who has an interest in understanding why we do what we do.
Dec 18, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Although not for the faint hearted, this book is an eye-opener, even today. Morris is an incredibly observant anthropologist, and I found the occasional dally into the chapters extremely interesting. It would be fabulous as a less detailed coffee-table book interspersed with more pictures as examples.
Jul 24, 2012 rated it liked it
Interesting although no mind blowing facts here, unfortunately you won't be able to decode peoples' inner most thoughts from reading this book. It was a bit boring in places but it's nice to obtain some new information, although you truthfully you can probably successfully read a lot of peoples' body language as it is.
Corina Leth
Aug 16, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A lot of explaining of not only our body language, but of everything human of behavior ...from why men shave, why we don't want to sit in the middle of a restaurant eating blue food. Some seem to be hypothetical guessing, but much is interesting.
Alice Doherty
Aug 14, 2013 rated it it was amazing
So interesting! Found it hard to put down and I've even started to apply some of its methods to my people watching. Would definitely recommend this book as you will learn a great deal about human behaviour.
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Desmond John Morris is most famous for his work as a zoologist and ethologist, but is also known as a surrealist artist and author.