SciCombinator

Discover the most talked about and latest scientific content & concepts.

Concept: Conversation

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Can a single conversation change minds on divisive social issues, such as same-sex marriage? A randomized placebo-controlled trial assessed whether gay (n = 22) or straight (n = 19) messengers were effective at encouraging voters (n = 972) to support same-sex marriage and whether attitude change persisted and spread to others in voters' social networks. The results, measured by an unrelated panel survey, show that both gay and straight canvassers produced large effects initially, but only gay canvassers' effects persisted in 3-week, 6-week, and 9-month follow-ups. We also find strong evidence of within-household transmission of opinion change, but only in the wake of conversations with gay canvassers. Contact with gay canvassers further caused substantial change in the ratings of gay men and lesbians more generally. These large, persistent, and contagious effects were confirmed by a follow-up experiment. Contact with minorities coupled with discussion of issues pertinent to them is capable of producing a cascade of opinion change.

Concepts: Homophobia, Bisexuality, Heterosexism, Conversation, LGBT, Same-sex marriage, Homosexuality, Sociology

31

We demonstrate that exposure to the news media causes Americans to take public stands on specific issues, join national policy conversations, and express themselves publicly-all key components of democratic politics-more often than they would otherwise. After recruiting 48 mostly small media outlets, we chose groups of these outlets to write and publish articles on subjects we approved, on dates we randomly assigned. We estimated the causal effect on proximal measures, such as website pageviews and Twitter discussion of the articles' specific subjects, and distal ones, such as national Twitter conversation in broad policy areas. Our intervention increased discussion in each broad policy area by ~62.7% (relative to a day’s volume), accounting for 13,166 additional posts over the treatment week, with similar effects across population subgroups.

Concepts: Fundamental physics concepts, Area, Free will, News media, Conversation, Causality, Journalism, Mass media

24

This article is a compilation of six narratives written by collective members of the volunteer-run Lesbian Herstory Archives, the oldest and largest collection of lesbian material in the world. Narratives draw on a yearlong series of conversations, which culminated in a panel discussion at the 40th Anniversary celebration. Authors' narratives detail the significance of the Lesbian Herstory Archives as a successful and sustainable lesbian organization. Topics covered span four decades and include: the organization’s history and practice, founding and activism, the acquisition of the current space, community engagement, and processing of special collections.

Concepts: Virgil Tibbs, Collection agency, Conversation, Lesbian, World, The Current

22

The distance individuals maintain between themselves and others can be defined as ‘interpersonal space’. This distance can be modulated both by situational factors and individual characteristics. Here we investigated the influence that the interpretation of other people interaction, in which one is not directly involved, may have on a person’s interpersonal space. In the current study we measured, for the first time, whether the size of interpersonal space changes after listening to other people conversations with neutral or aggressive content. The results showed that the interpersonal space expands after listening to a conversation with aggressive content relative to a conversation with a neutral content. This finding suggests that participants tend to distance themselves from an aggressive confrontation even if they are not involved in it. These results are in line with the view of the interpersonal space as a safety zone surrounding one’s body.

Concepts: Individualism, Individual rights, Time, People, Conversation, The Current, Individual, Person

20

Much attention has been focused on control of fire in human evolution and the impact of cooking on anatomy, social, and residential arrangements. However, little is known about what transpired when firelight extended the day, creating effective time for social activities that did not conflict with productive time for subsistence activities. Comparison of 174 day and nighttime conversations among the Ju/‘hoan (!Kung) Bushmen of southern Africa, supplemented by 68 translated texts, suggests that day talk centers on economic matters and gossip to regulate social relations. Night activities steer away from tensions of the day to singing, dancing, religious ceremonies, and enthralling stories, often about known people. Such stories describe the workings of entire institutions in a small-scale society with little formal teaching. Night talk plays an important role in evoking higher orders of theory of mind via the imagination, conveying attributes of people in broad networks (virtual communities), and transmitting the “big picture” of cultural institutions that generate regularity of behavior, cooperation, and trust at the regional level. Findings from the Ju/'hoan are compared with other hunter-gatherer societies and related to the widespread human use of firelight for intimate conversation and our appetite for evening stories. The question is raised as to what happens when economically unproductive firelit time is turned to productive time by artificial lighting.

Concepts: Behavior, Human evolution, Conversation, Evolution, Psychology, Mind, Society, Sociology

12

When disaster events capture global attention users of Twitter form transient interest communities that disseminate information and other messages online. This paper examines content related to Typhoon Haiyan (locally known as Yolanda) as it hit the Philippines and triggered international humanitarian response and media attention. It reveals how Twitter conversations about disasters evolve over time, showing an issue attention cycle on a social media platform. The paper examines different functions of Twitter and the information hubs that drive and sustain conversation about the event. Content analysis shows that the majority of tweets contain information about the typhoon or its damage, and disaster relief activities. There are differences in types of content between the most retweeted messages and posts that are original tweets. Original tweets are more likely to come from ordinary users, who are more likely to tweet emotions, messages of support, and political content compared with official sources and key information hubs that include news organizations, aid organization, and celebrities. Original tweets reveal use of the site beyond information to relief coordination and response.

Concepts: Social media, Conversation, Humanitarian aid, Tropical cyclone, Philippines, Disaster, Communication, Twitter

9

Discussing end of life preferences can be beneficial, and it is thought that the best time to have these conversations is usually when people are well. This review aims to establish current evidence for the effectiveness of community-based interventions to encourage people to consider, and to discuss with those closest to them, their preferences for end of life care or what they wish to happen after their death.

Concepts: Conversation, Time, Death, Systematic review, Life, Debate

8

Can we predict which conversations are enjoyable without hearing the words that are spoken? A total of 36 participants used a mobile app, My Social Ties, which collected data about 473 conversations that the participants engaged in as they went about their daily lives. We tested whether conversational properties (conversation length, rate of turn taking, proportion of speaking time) and acoustical properties (volume, pitch) could predict enjoyment of a conversation. Surprisingly, people enjoyed their conversations more when they spoke a smaller proportion of the time. This pilot study demonstrates how conversational properties of social interactions can predict psychologically meaningful outcomes, such as how much a person enjoys the conversation. It also illustrates how mobile phones can provide a window into everyday social experiences and well-being.

Concepts: Mobile computing, The Conversation, Personal digital assistant, Personal life, Sound, Mobile phone, Conversation, Sociology

7

The home of human language use is face-to-face interaction, a context in which communicative exchanges are characterised not only by bodily signals accompanying what is being said but also by a pattern of alternating turns at talk. This transition between turns is astonishingly fast-typically a mere 200-ms elapse between a current and a next speaker’s contribution-meaning that comprehending, producing, and coordinating conversational contributions in time is a significant challenge. This begs the question of whether the additional information carried by bodily signals facilitates or hinders language processing in this time-pressured environment. We present analyses of multimodal conversations revealing that bodily signals appear to profoundly influence language processing in interaction: Questions accompanied by gestures lead to shorter turn transition times-that is, to faster responses-than questions without gestures, and responses come earlier when gestures end before compared to after the question turn has ended. These findings hold even after taking into account prosodic patterns and other visual signals, such as gaze. The empirical findings presented here provide a first glimpse of the role of the body in the psycholinguistic processes underpinning human communication.

Concepts: Linguistics, Phonology, Communication, Language processing, Conversation, Human communication

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Conversation is a fundamental human experience that is necessary to pursue intrapersonal and interpersonal goals across myriad contexts, relationships, and modes of communication. In the current research, we isolate the role of an understudied conversational behavior: question-asking. Across 3 studies of live dyadic conversations, we identify a robust and consistent relationship between question-asking and liking: people who ask more questions, particularly follow-up questions, are better liked by their conversation partners. When people are instructed to ask more questions, they are perceived as higher in responsiveness, an interpersonal construct that captures listening, understanding, validation, and care. We measure responsiveness with an attitudinal measure from previous research as well as a novel behavioral measure: the number of follow-up questions one asks. In both cases, responsiveness explains the effect of question-asking on liking. In addition to analyzing live get-to-know-you conversations online, we also studied face-to-face speed-dating conversations. We trained a natural language processing algorithm as a “follow-up question detector” that we applied to our speed-dating data (and can be applied to any text data to more deeply understand question-asking dynamics). The follow-up question rate established by the algorithm showed that speed daters who ask more follow-up questions during their dates are more likely to elicit agreement for second dates from their partners, a behavioral indicator of liking. We also find that, despite the persistent and beneficial effects of asking questions, people do not anticipate that question-asking increases interpersonal liking. (PsycINFO Database Record

Concepts: Understanding, Human communication, Questions, Conversation, Psychology, Sentence, Interrogative word, Question