Movement correlation as a nonverbal cue in the perception of affiliation in thin slices of behaviour

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Latif, Nida
Social Visual-Cognition , Social Perception , Nonverbal Communication
Our perceptual systems can create a rich representation of the social cues gathered during social interaction. Very brief exposures or ‘thin slices’ of behavioural and linguistic information are sufficient for making accurate judgments regarding social situations and building these social representations. This is akin to our accurate recognition of static visual stimuli with brief exposures to a scene in the study of scene gist (Oliva, 2005). This thesis examines a specific social cue during social interaction - how the correlation of movement between two people varies as a result of their affiliation. Further, this thesis investigates how we perceive that behavioural cue when making judgments of affiliation while observing conversation. It has already been established that there is coordination of linguistic and behavioural information during social interaction (Ambady & Rosenthal, 1992). This coordination is more prominent when individuals are familiar with each than when they are not (Dunne & Ng, 1994). The first study in this thesis quantifies the variation in the coordination of movement between two people in conversation based on their affiliation. Results demonstrate that the correlation of movements between friends is greater than the correlation during stranger interaction. This experiment demonstrates that movement varies as a result of affiliation and that people could use this coordination as a cue when making accurate judgments of affiliation while observing social interaction. The second study used the analysis of movement correlation to examine how correlation serves as a cue for accuracy of affiliation judgment by observers. Results demonstrate that although correlation was not a significant cue in affiliation perception, participants could indeed do the perceptual task. These results suggest that the perception of social information is multi-faceted and many cues contribute to its perception. These findings are discussed in terms of our sensitivity to more specific movement correlations as opposed to the global correlations used in this study. These studies highlight the need for further investigation in how behavioural cues function within the judgment of social information.
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