May 24, 2023

The Power of Body Language in UXR Interviews: Techniques to Strengthen Your Research Outcomes

Abhishek Kumar


As researchers, we often focus on the words users say during user research (UXR) interviews. However, it's important to recognize that nonverbal communication, such as body language, can also have a significant impact on research outcomes. Body language can reveal how participants are feeling, provide context to their responses, and even influence how they perceive the researcher and the study.

In this blog, we'll explore the power of body language in UXR interviews and provide techniques to strengthen your research outcomes.

Setting the Stage: Building a Safe and Supportive Environment for Participants

Firstly, it's important to create a safe and comfortable environment for participants during UXR interviews. This will help them feel more relaxed, which can improve the quality of their responses and the overall outcomes of the research. To create a comfortable environment, consider the following tips:

  • Choose a quiet and private space: Make sure the location of the interview is quiet and private, free from interruptions or distractions that could disrupt the participant's focus.

  • Provide refreshments: Providing refreshments, such as water or snacks, can help participants feel more at ease and comfortable during the interview.

  • Be welcoming and friendly: When participants arrive, greet them warmly and make them feel welcome. Use a friendly tone of voice and maintain eye contact to help establish a rapport.

  • Explain the purpose of the interview: At the start of the interview, take a few moments to explain the purpose of the study and how the participant's feedback will be used. This can help put them at ease and make them feel more invested in the process.

  • Respect their time and effort: Let participants know that you value their time and effort, and thank them for their participation at the end of the interview. This can help leave a positive impression and encourage them to participate in future research.

How Body Language Impacts UXR Outcomes?

a. The Importance of Nonverbal Communication

Nonverbal communication plays a crucial role in how we interact with others. Research has shown that up to 93% of our communication is nonverbal, which means that how we say something can be just as important as what we say.

In UXR interviews, nonverbal communication can impact how participants perceive the researcher and the study. For example, if the researcher appears disinterested or distracted, the participant may be less likely to engage fully in the interview.

b. Examples of Body Language That May Affect UXR Outcomes

  • Closed off body posture, such as crossing arms or legs, which can indicate defensiveness or discomfort.
  • Lack of eye contact, which can signal disinterest or dishonesty.
  • Fidgeting or nervous movements, which can indicate anxiety or discomfort.
  • Facial expressions, which can reveal emotions and attitudes towards the study or topic.

Techniques for Changing Your Body Language During UXR Interviews

a. Posture and Gestures

One way to improve your body language during UXR interviews is to pay attention to your posture and gestures. Sit up straight and try to maintain an open body posture, with arms uncrossed and legs uncrossed. Use natural, relaxed gestures to emphasize points and engage with participants.

b. Eye Contact and Facial Expressions

Maintaining eye contact is essential during UXR interviews, as it signals interest and engagement with the participant. Be mindful of your facial expressions, too, as they can influence how participants perceive you and the study. Smile naturally and use appropriate facial expressions to convey empathy and understanding.

c. Voice and Tone

Your voice and tone can also impact how participants perceive you and the study. Speak clearly and with enthusiasm, using a tone that is warm and engaging. Be mindful of your pace, as speaking too quickly or slowly can indicate nervousness or boredom.

Advanced Techniques and Frameworks for Understanding Body Language in UXR

a. Micro-expressions and Subtle Cues

Micro-expressions are brief, involuntary facial expressions that reveal underlying emotions. By learning to recognize these expressions, researchers can gain valuable insights into how participants are feeling and tailor their approach accordingly. Similarly, paying attention to subtle cues, such as changes in body posture or tone of voice, can reveal important information about the participant's emotional state.

b. The Ladder of Inference

The Ladder of Inference is a framework that helps researchers recognize and avoid bias during UXR interviews. By being aware of our own assumptions and biases, we can better interpret participants' responses and avoid drawing incorrect conclusions.

c. The 7-38-55 Rule

The 7-38-55 Rule states that only 7% of communication is verbal, 38% is tone of voice, and 55% is body language.  It provides valuable insights into the relative importance of different aspects of communication, namely verbal communication (7%), tone of voice (38%), and body language (55%). These percentages highlight the significance of body language in particular, emphasizing the weightage researchers should give to non-verbal cues when aiming to grasp participants' experiences and needs. By recognizing the influence of body language, researchers can strive for a more comprehensive understanding of user interactions and effectively address their requirements.


In conclusion, body language plays a significant role in user research, and understanding how to use it effectively can improve research outcomes. By paying attention to posture, gestures, eye contact, facial expressions, voice, and tone, researchers can create a more engaging and comfortable environment for participants, leading to more accurate and valuable insights. Advanced techniques, such as micro-expressions and the Ladder of Inference, can also provide deeper insights into participants' thoughts and feelings. By implementing these techniques and creating a safe and comfortable environment, researchers can improve the quality and impact of their user research.

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