When they feel uncomfortable
When a person feels uncomfortable about his surroundings or when he finds himself surrounded by strangers, he might feel like folding his arms. This gesture happens on the unconscious level and is usually not consciously controlled. (See Why do some people feel uncomfortable around strangers?)
If they are shy
A person who feels shy around others might feel more comfortable with his arms folded. Shy people usually fold their arms in social gatherings, especially if they are surrounded by people they don’t know.
They got offended
If a person gets offended by something he sees or a comment he hears, he might feel like folding his arms. If someone makes a bad remark about a person in his presence, the latter might fold his arms to take the defensive position.
When they see something unpleasant
When a person sees an unpleasant thing such as an accident, he might feel like folding his arms. In such a case, the subconscious mind makes the person think that he is defending himself by folding his arms and this is why folding the arms is sometimes called the defensive position.
When they disagree with others
In a business meeting, a person who totally disagrees with what is said might fold his arms and lean back in his chair. This action can be an indication that the person doesn’t like what is being said.
It’s just a habit
Some people develop the habit of keeping their arms folded. Those people might have suffered from shyness earlier in their lives then kept the habit even though they are no longer shy people.
They mistakenly think it’s a good thing
Many ads, especially that involve body builders, have people folding their arms while posing. Those ads made some people mistakenly believe that folding the arms can send a positive impression, while in fact the opposite is true.
When they lose track of information
When a person loses track of information he might fold his arms. In a lecture, a person can fold his arms if he loses track and becomes unable to follow the instructor or teacher.
After a verbal fight
After a verbal fight or any kind of clash, a person might keep his arms folded. The one who keeps his arms folded is usually the one who was offended more by the fight or the clash.
Introverts are more likely to fold their arms
Introverts are more likely to keep their arms folded in social situations that involve meeting new people. While extroverts can do the same, introverts are still more likely to take that position in such situations. (See The body language of introverts)
When they go through a bad situation
If something bad happens to a person, he might fold his arms during and after the situation. By doing so, a person’s subconscious mind would believe that the person is protecting himself from the unpleasant situation.
During job interviews
A person might fold his arms in a job interview if he feels uncomfortable and uneasy. If the interview goes well, the person might feel at ease and his arms might unfold.
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