Experts Say… Is Communication Really Only 7% Verbal? Truth vs. Marketing

  • It expands a very specific initial application of the formula to a much wider range of applications
  • The fame around it is has penetrated supposedly exact high-tech industries such as Affective Computing or Digital Psychology
  • What role do nonverbal cues play in human communication?
  • How to avoid oversimplification and why choose ethical marketing?

The story behind the 7–38–55 rule

First, the historical background. The roots of this formulae date back to the late 1970s. The 7–38–55 rule appeared as a result of two studies carried out by Albert Mehrabian in 1967 (mainly Mehrabian & Ferris, 1967; and Mehrabian & Wiener, 1967).

  1. To read and relate the words from the proposed list to one of the three categories — positive, negative, or neutral — while imagining that each of these words could be said by person X to person Y.
  2. To listen to the same words and do the same task — determine whether X’s attitude towards Y is positive, negative, or neutral.
  1. Laboratory vs. Real life
Busting the Mehrabian Myth by

Current view: What role do nonverbal signals play in human communication?

According to the current views, the amount of information we communicate nonverbally varies greatly. For sure nonverbal signals play a huge role in human communication. This becomes especially obvious when gestures, facial expressions, voice intonations contradict our words. It is not only about what we say, but how we say it.

How to avoid oversimplifications and why choose ethical marketing?

Finally, Google search using the key words “communication 93 percent nonverbal” results in 493,000 links. Back in 2007 there were 263,000 results, and when researchers analysed the first 100 links, out of 79 websites that included a reference to communication being 93% nonverbal, only 16 identified Mehrabian as the source for these numbers (Lapakko, 2007). Today the situation is better — you occasionally meet the word “myth” in the headings.

  1. Connect your PR/marketing team to R&D and technical specialists.
  2. Make sure the fact you want to mention is indeed relevant to your message.
  3. Check your sources.
  4. Keep in mind that everything you announce publicly can (and will) be criticised, sooner or later.



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Neurodata Lab

Neurodata Lab

We create multi-modal systems for emotion recognition and develop non-contact methods of physiological signal processing. Reach us at