Fidgeting, nuisance or necessary? A good study by James A. Levine (science mag) of non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT), or fidgeting, links it to staying thin. Thin is good, obese is bad, mind you. Unfortunately NEAT may well be innate, according to dr. Ravussin, meaning it’s probably useless to encourage children to fidget (or else you’ll get fat, Elsie!). But you could build classrooms that cater to the hunter-gatherer within, who obviously aches for a life in the wild, not for a nice fat hamburger.
You may get these lovely kids silent but can you freeze their fidgeting? Should you want to? (news-record.com)
Meanwhile, back home, I am trying to see how well people discriminate between gestures and fidgeting. The story goes that we attend to gestures because we can see they are intended to communicate and we ignore the unimportant fidgeting (Kendon Gesture 2004, and stuff from Goffman). Mind you, it’s not a black and white thing. You can learn to attend fidgeting as well, see the Levine study for example. Sofar I have however found in my experiments that people are at least very well able to separate gestures and fidgeting, though they are sometimes temporarily ‘fooled’ by a fidget. (Submitted to Gesture last week)
I surely hope that parents and teachers do not suddenly start paying too much attention to fidgeting. If Neat is innate, then perhaps so is our need to be able to move about without arousing everyone’s curiosity. You may look at my fidgeting, as long as you don’t see it.