Point well taken
New research suggests that pointing enhances understanding
In some cultures, pointing is a faux pas, sometimes even insulting. New research is turning this social don’t on its head, showing that hand gestures, such as pointing, can enhance the understanding of messages.
While describing portraits, participants in a study who used referential gesturing were better able to identify targets and reduce verbal cues than participants who only relied on verbal directions.
The findings will be published in the June issue of Psychological Science, a journal of the American Psychological Society. The author of the report is Adrian Bangerter, Université de Neuchâtel.
Bangerter sought to identify how referential (pointing) gestures contribute to understanding in conversation. Pointing is often thought to be used to identify a specific object of a verbal cue (e.g., pointing and saying "that’s John" identifies the referent of the word "that"). In contrast, the experiment explored the possibility that pointing could be used to focus the audience’s gaze on a particular subregion of shared visual space, thus facilitating the use of verbal descriptions.
In the experiment, pairs of participants talked and gestured freely to identify pictures (photographic portraits of people) from groups of pictures visible to both of them. One person identified the desired photo to the other. The groups of photos were located at five different distances from participants (arm length, 25 cm, 50 cm, 75 cm and 100 cm). In a visible condition, pairs could see each other and thus use pointing gestures as well as verbal cues. In a hidden condition, a screen separated them from each other and they could only communicate by talking.
Pointing was used more often at close targets than at distant ones. As distance increased, verbal descriptions were relied on more. But participants who could use gestures were able to reduce verbal effort in identifying targets in comparison with those that couldn’t. In particular, descriptions of the approximate location of desired photos (e.g., "John is on the upper left side") were suppressed.
For more information contact Bangerter at email@example.com.
Psychological Science is ranked among the top 10 general psychology journals, for impact on the field, by the Institute of Scientific Information. The American Psychological Society represents psychologists advocating science-based psychological research in the public’s interest.
Adrian Bangerter | EurekAlert!
The most recent press releases about innovation >>>
Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:
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...
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...
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...
At TU Wien, an alternative for resource intensive formwork for the construction of concrete domes was developed. It is now used in a test dome for the Austrian Federal Railways Infrastructure (ÖBB Infrastruktur).
Concrete shells are efficient structures, but not very resource efficient. The formwork for the construction of concrete domes alone requires a high amount of...
Many pathogens use certain sugar compounds from their host to help conceal themselves against the immune system. Scientists at the University of Bonn have now, in cooperation with researchers at the University of York in the United Kingdom, analyzed the dynamics of a bacterial molecule that is involved in this process. They demonstrate that the protein grabs onto the sugar molecule with a Pac Man-like chewing motion and holds it until it can be used. Their results could help design therapeutics that could make the protein poorer at grabbing and holding and hence compromise the pathogen in the host. The study has now been published in “Biophysical Journal”.
The cells of the mouth, nose and intestinal mucosa produce large quantities of a chemical called sialic acid. Many bacteria possess a special transport system...