The Primitive Reason Why We Nod For ‘Yes’ And Shake Our Heads For ‘No’

Why do we ‘nod’ for yes and shake our heads for ‘no’? Does this question seem a bit silly to you? Well, for scientists it isn’t. So much so, that Charles Darwin himself looked into and wrote a book about the issue – The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals (Get it from Amazon).

Darwin sent out questionnaires to people form different nationalities asking them what were the gestures they used to convey ‘yes’ and ‘no’. The results: nodding for yes and head shaking for no appeared in the vast majority of the cultures in question.

So, why so many different civilizations chose the same gesture even though they weren’t in contact or influenced from each other whatsoever? (the article continues after the ad)

Charles Darwin believes that this has to do with our primitive instincts and our nursing habits. When babies seek food they tend to lean their head forward in search of their mother’s breast. However, when they are not hungry, they shake their head from shoulder to shoulder trying to avoid the breast. This instinct continues into our life and that’s why we nod for yes and shake our heads for no.

We need to clarify here that, even though this explanation makes sense, it’s nothing more than a theory. Yet, it’s a theory that most scientists seem to agree and it’s even backed up by the fact that people who are born deaf and/or blind will use the same gesture. 

So, what do you think? Does this makes sense to you?

It sure does for me!

If you like what you read, then you will definitely love this one: Why Do We Shake Hands, How It Started And What Did It Use To Mean?


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Sources: Why do we nod our heads for “yes” and shake them for “no”? | Ever Wonder Why?: Here Are the Answers!