BERKELEY, Calif., Feb. 6 (UPI) -- Body language may indicate one's socioeconomic status, much as a vehicle, bank account or schools attended can, U.S. researchers say.
Psychologists Michael W. Kraus and Dacher Keltner of the University of California, Berkeley, videotaped participants as they got acquainted in one-on-one interview sessions.
During the taped sessions, the researchers looked for two types of behaviors: disengagement behaviors -- including fidgeting with personal objects and doodling -- and engagement behaviors -- including head nodding, laughing and eye contact.
The study, reported in Psychological Science, reveals that non-verbal cues can give away a person's socioeconomic status. Volunteers whose parents were from upper socioeconomic status backgrounds displayed more disengagement-related behaviors compared to participants from lower socioeconomic status backgrounds.
In addition, when a separate group of observers were shown 60-second clips of the videos, they were able to correctly guess the participants' socioeconomic status background, based on their body language.
Those with access to prestigious institutions tend to be less dependent on others, the researchers say.
"This lack of dependence among upper socioeconomic status people is displayed in their non-verbal behaviors during social interactions," the psychologists conclude.