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!
Diagnoses: When Are Several Opinions Better Than One?
19.07.2016 | Max-Planck-Institut für Bildungsforschung
High in calories and low in nutrients when adolescents share pictures of food online
07.04.2016 | University of Gothenburg
Ultrafast lasers have introduced new possibilities in engraving ultrafine structures, and scientists are now also investigating how to use them to etch microstructures into thin glass. There are possible applications in analytics (lab on a chip) and especially in electronics and the consumer sector, where great interest has been shown.
This new method was born of a surprising phenomenon: irradiating glass in a particular way with an ultrafast laser has the effect of making the glass up to a...
Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion
Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...
Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.
"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...
In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.
A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...
By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.
"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...
14.10.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
12.10.2016 | Event News
27.10.2016 | Materials Sciences
27.10.2016 | Physics and Astronomy
27.10.2016 | Life Sciences