Gestures & The Fist Bump


Courtesy of StockVault

NPR reports on the Fist Bump as the new High-Five!  The fist bump became a big issue when President Obama used it in his 2008 campaign as a greeting to a restaurant employee.  As most of us know the fist bump has gained popular standings to signal a job well done, “I agree with you”, or “what’s up”.

Howie Mandel, a well known comedian, has also contributed to the popularity of this gesture as he uses it quite often in his role as a judge on  America’s Got Talent.  The question is, where did the fist bump come from and how did it become so popular that the President of the United States has come to use it as well?  Did this gesture originate in the U.S. and do other cultures have similar versions of this nonverbal gesture?

According to the article, the fist bump came about from America’s sports world, noted David Givens, an anthropologist with the Center for Nonverbal Studies.  The first bump was a way that friends greeted each other on and off the field.

The fist bump is one of the few gestures that is equal,Givens told Goats and Sodas (NPR’s new blog, covering health and all sorts of development around the world),  “You could do it with President Obama, and you’d both be equals at that time.

Usually when two people shake hands its a nonverbal communicator of who wants to be or who is in control of the meeting. Usually the person who’s hand is on top is in control, but with a fist bump neither person has the “upper hand”.

Humintell’s Director Dr. David Matsumoto also commented on the Japanese greeting of the bow, which is similar to the American greeting of a hand shake.    “The bow is a form of respect,Matsumoto,  psychologist at San Francisco State University noted, But the varying degrees of angle of the bow, when bows are performed, and to whom, all show something about hierarchy.

The fist bump is spreading widely across the nation, and according to Givens, is due in large part  to the fact that it is NOT just a greeting but also a  sign of approval and triumph.

To learn more about gestures and what they mean…Check out Humintell’s newest webinar recording:  “World of Gestures

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