Sunday, August 05, 2012

44. Body Language


Google Images
How long do (you think) humans need to realize the importance of their postures? According to many, a lifetime. But this will be the topic of the following [weekly] entry; for the time being, this is what you are kindly offered:

Read the following passage and answer the questions.

Making sense of Monkey Business

 [Adapted from New Success at First Certificate by Robert O’Neill, Michael Duckworth and Kathy Gude]


‘Who can one hit, if not one’s friends?’ a famous actor once asked his old comrade and fellow actor shortly before punching him on the jaw.

The response of the surprised, bruised actor is not recorded. Nevertheless, the story illustrates an interesting aspect of human behaviour.

Google Images
Despite the unreasonable attack, the two old men remained firm friends. Peace was made - and this reconciliation represents the most important aspect of the incident, says Dutch zoologist Frans de Waal in a recently-published book.

He believes that scientists who study human nature have concentrated on violence, on our ability for competition, at the expense of our capacity for making peace. As a result, these scientists have led people to believe that violence is much more a part of human nature than peace. An examination of reconciliation is needed to correct the balance, he believes.

De Waal has studied human peace-making and has attempted to put it in its proper context - by comparing how we and our close animal cousins, the apes and monkeys, solve our disputes. The result is a highly readable, essentially old- fashioned book which emphasizes the parallels between our behaviour and that of animals. It is, however, a dangerous approach, for it is all too easy to detect human ‘motivation’ in creatures incapable of such experiences.

But for de Waal, such comparisons are not invalid. The only differences in behaviour, he believes, are those of quantity. ‘Whereas monkeys generally make up within minutes, humans can take days, years, even generations to do the same.’

Google Images
Google Images
Our species has many conciliatory gestures in common with these animals, e.g. stretching out a hand, smiling, kissing, embracing - which de Waal traces back 30 million years. So what does this new interpretation of human reconciliation tell us about world conflicts, peace negotiations and arms reduction talks? Unfortunately, not much, it seems. ‘If my studies of monkeys and apes contain any lesson for the world, it is that people who need each other for one reason or another are less likely to fight: and if they do fight, they are more likely to make up afterwards.’ It is an analysis unlikely to revolutionize world politics, but it would be wrong to criticize such an interesting book for this reason.

Choose the best answer.

1.      When the actor was punched by his friend
A he had been expecting the attack.
B they had been having an argument.
C it did not destroy their friendship.
D he responded by hitting him back.

Jane Goodall and one of her primate friends
(Google Images)
2.    Frans de Waal believes that scientists have
A devoted too much time to studying violence.
B proved conclusively that peace and violence are of equal importance.
C tried to discover why humans find reconciliation difficult.
D had insufficient resources to study the problem of violence.

3.    The writer feels that de Waal's comparisons between human and animal behaviour are
A perfectly acceptable.
B not unreasonable.
C proof of his arguments.
D not always valid.

4.    De Waal feels that the behaviour of humans and that of monkeys differs only in the fact that
A monkeys do not experience human 'motivation'.
B monkeys form fewer relationships than humans.
C the time taken for reconciliation is greater in humans.
D they do not use the same conciliatory gestures.

G8 body language (BBC News photo)
5.     De Waal's studies lead to the conclusion that there is
A more chance of reconciliation when people do not depend on one another.
B less chance of fighting when people depend on one another.
C less chance of fighting when humans or animals form groups.
D more chance of reconciliation after longer periods of fighting.