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 The Great Unknown: Risk-Taking Behavior in Adolescents
19.01.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für Bildungsforschung

nachricht A sudden drop in outdoor temperature increases the risk of respiratory infections
11.01.2017 | University of Gothenburg

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: Traffic jam in empty space

New success for Konstanz physicists in studying the quantum vacuum

An important step towards a completely new experimental access to quantum physics has been made at University of Konstanz. The team of scientists headed by...

Im Focus: How gut bacteria can make us ill

HZI researchers decipher infection mechanisms of Yersinia and immune responses of the host

Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...

Im Focus: Interfacial Superconductivity: Magnetic and superconducting order revealed simultaneously

Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.

While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...

Im Focus: Studying fundamental particles in materials

Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales

Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...

Im Focus: Designing Architecture with Solar Building Envelopes

Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.

As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Sustainable Water use in Agriculture in Eastern Europe and Central Asia

19.01.2017 | Event News

12V, 48V, high-voltage – trends in E/E automotive architecture

10.01.2017 | Event News

2nd Conference on Non-Textual Information on 10 and 11 May 2017 in Hannover

09.01.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Helmholtz International Fellow Award for Sarah Amalia Teichmann

20.01.2017 | Awards Funding

An innovative high-performance material: biofibers made from green lacewing silk

20.01.2017 | Materials Sciences

Ion treatments for cardiac arrhythmia — Non-invasive alternative to catheter-based surgery

20.01.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>