The NonVerbal Dictionary of Gestures, Signs & Body Language Cues

Object Fancy

Among three to five-year-old children in nursery schools, fights occur over property and little else. --N.G. Blurton Jones (1967:355)

In more severe forms [of the grasping reflex], any visual target will elicit manual reaching followed by tight grasping. --M. Marsel Mesulam (1992:696)

Emotion1. The desire to pick up, handle, and hold a material object, especially a consumer product of elegant design. 2. The urge to touch, own, arrange, collect, display, or talk about a manufactured human artifact. 3. The motivation for compulsive shopping.

Usage: Products "speak" to us nonverbally as tangible, material gestures. Their design features (e.g., the shineshape, and smoothness of a platinum bracelet) send compelling messages to capture our attention. That we respond to their appeal shows in the sheer number of artifacts we possess. Our personality may be caricatured by the object(s) we desire, e.g., jewelry, boats, shoes, and so on. We may hold treasured artifacts with two hands, in a gentle, caressing embrace between the tactile pads of our thumbs and forefingers. Forever beckoning from TV monitors, mail-order catalogues, and shelves, products gesture until we answer their call.

Psychology. Our aversion to the seizure by another of an object we are using may be innate (Thorndike 1940).

RESEARCH REPORTS1. Communication about material objects begins in infancy, after the age of six months (Trevarthen 1977:254). 2.The average U.S. household stockpiles a greater supply of consumer goods than its members want, need, or use. 3. By the age of five, the average American child has owned 250 toys.

Neuro-notes. The "magnetic effect triggered by objects" originates with the innate grasping reflex. Subsequently, it involves a balance a.between the parietal lobe's control of object fancy, and b. the frontal lobe's "thoughtful detachment" from the material world of goods (Mesulam 1992:697). In patients with frontal lobe lesions, the mere sight of an artifact is "likely to elicit the automatic compulsion to use it," while lesions in the parietal network "promote an avoidance of the extrapersonal world" (Mesulam 1992:697).


Photo of Dorothy's ruby slippers (picture credit: unknown)