Affect displays is subset of nonverbal language that reveal our emotional state. For example, if we are happy we can show enthusiasm, or if we are telling a sad story, we correspondingly show somber. Affect display include facial expressions such as smiling, laughing, crying or frowning.
Awareness of various kinds of affect and how it is used in speech will provide vital clues about the speaker and his or her intent. Affect displays occur in synchrony and within the rhythm of speech. They emphases certain words or phrases and are an integral part of speech and thought. They can tell us about the expressiveness of a person and also what they find most important in their speech by which words they choose to emphasize. Posture can also signal emotion as can a variety of other gestures.
Affect is also different from culture to culture. For example, Russians tend to smile much less than Americans and therefore an American might come across as overly friendly to a Russian. Conversely Russians might come across as disinterested or aloof to Americans because they smile less frequently. In reality, both cultures are neither aloof nor overtly content, they simply appear to be so as they are viewed through a complimentary cultural norm bias. There is no right or wrong way to display affect, which is to say that no culture is better or worse because it smiles, frowns or cries less or more than another during expression.