Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Psychologists find that head movement is more important than gender in nonverbal communication

27.05.2009
It is well known that people use head motion during conversation to convey a range of meanings and emotions, and that women use more active head motion when conversing with each other than men use when they talk with each other.

When women and men converse together, the men use a little more head motion and the women use a little less. But the men and women might be adapting because of their gender-based expectations or because of the movements they perceive from each other.

What would happen if you could change the apparent gender of a conversant while keeping all of the motion dynamics of head movement and facial expression?

Using new videoconferencing technology, a team of psychologists and computer scientists – led by Steven Boker, a professor of psychology at the University of Virginia – were able to switch the apparent gender of study participants during conversation and found that head motion was more important than gender in determining how people coordinate with each other while engaging in conversation.

The scientists found that gender-based social expectations are unlikely to be the source of reported gender differences in the way people coordinate their head movements during two-way conversation.

The researchers used synthesized faces – known as avatars – in videoconferences with naïve participants, who believed they were conversing onscreen with an actual person rather than a synthetic version of a person.

In some conversations, the researchers changed the gender of the avatars and the vocal pitch of the avatar's voice – while still maintaining their actual head movements and facial expressions – convincing naïve participants that they were speaking with, for example, a male when they were in fact speaking with a female, or vice versa.

"We found that people simply adapt to each other's head movements and facial expressions, regardless of the apparent sex of the person they are talking to," Boker said. "This is important because it indicates that how you appear is less important than how you move when it comes to what other people feel when they speak with you."

He will present the findings Sunday at the annual convention of the Association for Psychological Science in San Francisco. A paper detailing the results is scheduled for publication in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance.

The study, funded by the National Science Foundation, used a low-bandwidth, high-frame-rate videoconferencing technology to record and recreate facial expressions to see how people alter their behavior based on the slightest changes in expression of another person. The U.Va.-based team also includes researchers at the University of Pittsburgh, University of East Anglia, Carnegie Mellon University and Disney Research.

A video demonstration is available online at: http://faculty.virginia.edu/humandynamicslab/.

The technology uses statistical representations of a person's face to track and reconstruct that face. This allows the principal components of facial expression – only dozens in number – to be transmitted as a close rendition of the actual face. It's a sort of connect-the-dots fabrication that can be transmitted frame by frame in near-real time.

Boker and his team are trying to understand how people interact during conversation, and how factors such as gender or race may alter the dynamics of a conversation. To do so, they needed a way to capture facial expressions people use when conversing.

"From a psychological standpoint, our interest is in how people interact and how they coordinate their facial expressions as they talk with one another, such as when one person nods while speaking, or listening, the other person likewise nods," Boker said.

It is this "mirroring process" of coordination that helps people to feel a connection with each other.

"When I coordinate my facial expressions or head movements with yours, I activate a system that helps me empathize with your feelings," Boker said.

The technology the team developed further allows them to map the facial expressions of one person onto the face of another in a real time videoconference. In this way they can change the apparent gender or race of a participant and closely track how a naïve participant reacts when speaking to a woman, say, as opposed to a man.

"In this way we can distinguish between how people coordinate their facial expressions and what their social expectation is," Boker said.

Invited talk web page: http://www.psychologicalscience.org/convention/program_detail.cfm?abstract_id=15234

Fariss Samarrai | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.virginia.edu

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht Do microplastics harbour additional risks by colonization with harmful bacteria?
05.04.2018 | Leibniz-Institut für Ostseeforschung Warnemünde

nachricht Rutgers-led innovation could spur faster, cheaper, nano-based manufacturing
14.02.2018 | Rutgers University

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: BAM@Hannover Messe: innovative 3D printing method for space flight

At the Hannover Messe 2018, the Bundesanstalt für Materialforschung und-prüfung (BAM) will show how, in the future, astronauts could produce their own tools or spare parts in zero gravity using 3D printing. This will reduce, weight and transport costs for space missions. Visitors can experience the innovative additive manufacturing process live at the fair.

Powder-based additive manufacturing in zero gravity is the name of the project in which a component is produced by applying metallic powder layers and then...

Im Focus: Molecules Brilliantly Illuminated

Physicists at the Laboratory for Attosecond Physics, which is jointly run by Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität and the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, have developed a high-power laser system that generates ultrashort pulses of light covering a large share of the mid-infrared spectrum. The researchers envisage a wide range of applications for the technology – in the early diagnosis of cancer, for instance.

Molecules are the building blocks of life. Like all other organisms, we are made of them. They control our biorhythm, and they can also reflect our state of...

Im Focus: Spider silk key to new bone-fixing composite

University of Connecticut researchers have created a biodegradable composite made of silk fibers that can be used to repair broken load-bearing bones without the complications sometimes presented by other materials.

Repairing major load-bearing bones such as those in the leg can be a long and uncomfortable process.

Im Focus: Writing and deleting magnets with lasers

Study published in the journal ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces is the outcome of an international effort that included teams from Dresden and Berlin in Germany, and the US.

Scientists at the Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) together with colleagues from the Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin (HZB) and the University of Virginia...

Im Focus: Gamma-ray flashes from plasma filaments

Novel highly efficient and brilliant gamma-ray source: Based on model calculations, physicists of the Max PIanck Institute for Nuclear Physics in Heidelberg propose a novel method for an efficient high-brilliance gamma-ray source. A giant collimated gamma-ray pulse is generated from the interaction of a dense ultra-relativistic electron beam with a thin solid conductor. Energetic gamma-rays are copiously produced as the electron beam splits into filaments while propagating across the conductor. The resulting gamma-ray energy and flux enable novel experiments in nuclear and fundamental physics.

The typical wavelength of light interacting with an object of the microcosm scales with the size of this object. For atoms, this ranges from visible light to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Invitation to the upcoming "Current Topics in Bioinformatics: Big Data in Genomics and Medicine"

13.04.2018 | Event News

Unique scope of UV LED technologies and applications presented in Berlin: ICULTA-2018

12.04.2018 | Event News

IWOLIA: A conference bringing together German Industrie 4.0 and French Industrie du Futur

09.04.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Quantum Technology for Advanced Imaging – QUILT

24.04.2018 | Information Technology

AWI researchers measure a record concentration of microplastic in arctic sea ice

24.04.2018 | Earth Sciences

Complete skin regeneration system of fish unraveled

24.04.2018 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>