INSA concept and method of nonverbal strategy analysis


Nonverbal communication is a broad term.

It includes elements such as posture, movement, facial expression, pace of speech, breathing, intonation and eye contact. The combination of these elements is what mainly determines the message that is communicated to the receiver. To even more than 90% in some situations.

It therefore pays off to be able to read those nonverbal messages.


There are some elements of nonverbal communication that people are (partly) aware of. For example, you can be aware of your posture (sitting, standing, leaning back, arms on the table, etc.) whether you are looking at the other person or not. But when the interactive situation becomes more exciting or intense, it is much harder to do so.

However, research shows that the many, fast and subtle micro-movements of the face are virtually 100% unconscious. Unconscious also means they cannot be influenced. To us, this is why these micro-movements are so interesting: they are a reliable source of information.


The INSA method was developed by Herman Ilgen in collaboration with the University of Amsterdam. It has its origin from both professional negotiation practice as well as current academic literature, based on psychology and neuropsychology. The focus is on repetitive micro-movements in every individual’s face. (oftentimes more than 100 times per 10 minutes). We follow the insights of scientists like Frijda, fridlund and Russell: the face primarily has a functionality in interaction. With the facial micro-movements we communicate what we tend to do in the current interaction. For the most part this happens unconsciously. The other person registers and interprets this tendency in a general way, also unconsciously.


To test the method INSA permanently conducts research in cooperation with the University of Amsterdam in to these repetitive micromovements. This research is innovative and unique up to this very day. Over the last 60 years, the international research on facial micro-movements almost exclusively concerned the question as to which facial expressions do or don’t show the (felt) emotions of the person. INSA has been the first to research facial micro-movements from a completely different perspective. INSA was able to show that every individual has a specific set of repetitive micro-movements, regardless of the situation.

We call this the Personal Nonverbal Repertoire (PNR). The research also shows linkage between PNR and personality characteristics.


From neuropsychological research there is a plausible relationship between facial micro-movements and generally unconscious automatic human behaviour.

The amygdala in the brain is important for our reflex behaviour. This is where “learning experiences” related to risks and tension are stored; these learning experiences determine to a large extent how we perceive risk or tension and how we react to it, also with our face. This varies across individuals. Research has also shown that the amygdala is directly involved in interpreting of and reacting to visual information from other faces. We therefore see a relationship between a person’s PNR and their automatic reactions on the faces of others.


At INSA, we constantly conduct research on the relationship between Personal Nonverbal Repertoire and behavioural strategies.

We constantly conduct video analyses and test our findings in real-world interactive situations. Our research, together with our clients’ needs, is the basis for developing our products and services. This is how we turn an interesting concept into something that also has practical value.