SciCombinator

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

Concept: Nonverbal communication

178

The effects of selectively different experience of eye contact and gaze behaviour on the early development of five sighted infants of blind parents were investigated. Infants were assessed longitudinally at 6-10, 12-15 and 24-47 months. Face scanning and gaze following were assessed using eye tracking. In addition, established measures of autistic-like behaviours and standardized tests of cognitive, motor and linguistic development, as well as observations of naturalistic parent-child interaction were collected. These data were compared with those obtained from a larger group of sighted infants of sighted parents. Infants with blind parents did not show an overall decrease in eye contact or gaze following when they observed sighted adults on video or in live interactions, nor did they show any autistic-like behaviours. However, they directed their own eye gaze somewhat less frequently towards their blind mothers and also showed improved performance in visual memory and attention at younger ages. Being reared with significantly reduced experience of eye contact and gaze behaviour does not preclude sighted infants from developing typical gaze processing and other social-communication skills. Indeed, the need to switch between different types of communication strategy may actually enhance other skills during development.

Concepts: Psychology, Memory, Eye, Visual perception, Grammar, Communication, Nonverbal communication, Nonviolent Communication

173

141

Impairments in social communication are a core feature of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Because the ability to infer other people’s emotions from their facial expressions is critical for many aspects of social communication, deficits in expression recognition are a plausible candidate marker for ASD. However, previous studies on facial expression recognition produced mixed results, which may be due to differences in the sensitivity of the many tests used and/or the heterogeneity among individuals with ASD. To ascertain whether expression recognition may serve as a diagnostic marker (which distinguishes people with ASD from a comparison group) or a stratification marker (which helps to divide ASD into more homogeneous subgroups), a crucial first step is to move beyond identification of mean group differences and to better understand the frequency and severity of impairments.

Concepts: Sociology, Autism, Pervasive developmental disorder, Asperger syndrome, Autism spectrum, PDD-NOS, Paul Ekman, Nonverbal communication

110

Facial expression of emotion is a foundational aspect of social interaction and nonverbal communication. In this study, we use a computer-animated 3D facial tool to investigate how dynamic properties of a smile are perceived. We created smile animations where we systematically manipulated the smile’s angle, extent, dental show, and dynamic symmetry. Then we asked a diverse sample of 802 participants to rate the smiles in terms of their effectiveness, genuineness, pleasantness, and perceived emotional intent. We define a “successful smile” as one that is rated effective, genuine, and pleasant in the colloquial sense of these words. We found that a successful smile can be expressed via a variety of different spatiotemporal trajectories, involving an intricate balance of mouth angle, smile extent, and dental show combined with dynamic symmetry. These findings have broad applications in a variety of areas, such as facial reanimation surgery, rehabilitation, computer graphics, and psychology.

Concepts: Psychology, Computer graphics, Communication, Paul Ekman, 3D computer graphics, Nonverbal communication, Metacommunicative competence, Eye contact

90

When people are being evaluated, their whole body responds. Verbal feedback causes robust activation in the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis. What about nonverbal evaluative feedback? Recent discoveries about the social functions of facial expression have documented three morphologically distinct smiles, which serve the functions of reinforcement, social smoothing, and social challenge. In the present study, participants saw instances of one of three smile types from an evaluator during a modified social stress test. We find evidence in support of the claim that functionally different smiles are sufficient to augment or dampen HPA axis activity. We also find that responses to the meanings of smiles as evaluative feedback are more differentiated in individuals with higher baseline high-frequency heart rate variability (HF-HRV), which is associated with facial expression recognition accuracy. The differentiation is especially evident in response to smiles that are more ambiguous in context. Findings suggest that facial expressions have deep physiological implications and that smiles regulate the social world in a highly nuanced fashion.

Concepts: Cellular differentiation, Nonverbal communication, Smile, Facial Action Coding System, Facial expression, Facial expressions

64

Uncertainty monitoring is a core property of metacognition, allowing individuals to adapt their decision-making strategies depending on the state of their knowledge. Although it has been argued that other animals share these metacognitive abilities, only humans seem to possess the ability to explicitly communicate their own uncertainty to others. It remains unknown whether this capacity is present early in development, or whether it emerges later with the ability to verbally report one’s own mental states. Here, using a nonverbal memory-monitoring paradigm, we show that 20-month-olds can monitor and report their own uncertainty. Infants had to remember the location of a hidden toy before pointing to indicate where they wanted to recover it. In an experimental group, infants were given the possibility to ask for help through nonverbal communication when they had forgotten the toy location. Compared with a control group in which infants had no other option but to decide by themselves, infants given the opportunity to ask for help used this option strategically to improve their performance. Asking for help was used selectively to avoid making errors and to decline difficult choices. These results demonstrate that infants are able to successfully monitor their own uncertainty and share this information with others to fulfill their goals.

Concepts: Cognition, Decision theory, English-language films, Writing, Communication, Nonverbal communication, Paralanguage, Intercultural competence

56

Across two field studies of romantic attraction, we demonstrate that postural expansiveness makes humans more romantically appealing. In a field study (n= 144 speed-dates), we coded nonverbal behaviors associated with liking, love, and dominance. Postural expansiveness-expanding the body in physical space-was most predictive of attraction, with each one-unit increase in coded behavior from the video recordings nearly doubling a person’s odds of getting a “yes” response from one’s speed-dating partner. In a subsequent field experiment (n= 3,000), we tested the causality of postural expansion (vs. contraction) on attraction using a popular Global Positioning System-based online-dating application. Mate-seekers rapidly flipped through photographs of potential sexual/date partners, selecting those they desired to meet for a date. Mate-seekers were significantly more likely to select partners displaying an expansive (vs. contractive) nonverbal posture. Mediation analyses demonstrate one plausible mechanism through which expansiveness is appealing: Expansiveness makes the dating candidate appear more dominant. In a dating world in which success sometimes is determined by a split-second decision rendered after a brief interaction or exposure to a static photograph, single persons have very little time to make a good impression. Our research suggests that a nonverbal dominance display increases a person’s chances of being selected as a potential mate.

Concepts: Natural selection, Experiment, Selection, Nonverbal communication, Field study, Humans, Interpersonal attraction, Doubling the cube

33

In medicine, it is critical that clinicians demonstrate both empathy (perceived as warmth) and competence. Perceptions of these qualities are often intuitive and are based on nonverbal behavior. Emphasizing both warmth and competence may prove problematic, however, because there is evidence that they are inversely related in other settings. We hypothesize that perceptions of physician competence will instead be positively correlated with perceptions of physician warmth and empathy, potentially due to changing conceptions of the physician’s role. We test this hypothesis in an analog medical context using a large online sample, manipulating physician nonverbal behaviors suggested to communicate empathy (e.g. eye contact) and competence (the physician’s white coat). Participants rated physicians displaying empathic nonverbal behavior as more empathic, warm, and more competent than physicians displaying unempathic nonverbal behavior, adjusting for mood. We found no warmth/competence tradeoff and, additionally, no significant effects of the white coat. Further, compared with male participants, female participants perceived physicians displaying unempathic nonverbal behavior as less empathic. Given the significant consequences of clinician empathy, it is important for clinicians to learn how nonverbal behavior contributes to perceptions of warmth, and use it as another tool to improve their patients' emotional and physical health.

Concepts: Psychology, Medicine, Hospital, Physician, Skill, Medical school, Emotion, Nonverbal communication

32

Facial expressions of emotion are thought to have evolved from the development of facial muscles used in sensory regulation and later adapted to express moral judgment. Negative moral judgment includes the expressions of anger, disgust and contempt. Here, we study the hypothesis that these facial expressions of negative moral judgment have further evolved into a facial expression of negation regularly used as a grammatical marker in human language. Specifically, we show that people from different cultures expressing negation use the same facial muscles as those employed to express negative moral judgment. We then show that this nonverbal signal is used as a co-articulator in speech and that, in American Sign Language, it has been grammaticalized as a non-manual marker. Furthermore, this facial expression of negation exhibits the theta oscillation (3-8Hz) universally seen in syllable and mouthing production in speech and signing. These results provide evidence for the hypothesis that some components of human language have evolved from facial expressions of emotion, and suggest an evolutionary route for the emergence of grammatical markers.

Concepts: Gene expression, Sentence, Morality, Paul Ekman, Nonverbal communication, Sign language, Facial expression, Metacommunicative competence

29

DSM-5 sees the introduction of Social (Pragmatic) Communication Disorder (SPCD), characterized by persistent difficulties using verbal and nonverbal communication for social purposes, in the absence of restricted and repetitive interests and behaviours. There is currently much confusion about the precise diagnostic criteria for SPCD and how this disorder relates to autism spectrum disorders (ASD), previous descriptions of pragmatic language impairment (PLI) and more specific language disorders (LD).

Concepts: Autism, Pervasive developmental disorder, Writing, Asperger syndrome, Autism spectrum, Communication, Nonverbal communication, Communication disorders