Tuesday, July 13, 2010

New Issue of Journal of Nonverbal Behavior

Journal of Nonverbal Behavior.
Volume 34 Number 3 is now available on SpringerLink

There are two articles I found interesting:

The Semantic Specificity Hypothesis: When Gestures Do Not Depend Upon the Presence of a Listener

Humans gesture even when their gestures can serve no communicative function (e.g., when the listener cannot see them). This study explores the intrapersonal function of gestures, and the semantic content of the speech they accompany. Sixty-eight adults participated in pairs, communicating on an object description task. Visibility of partner was manipulated; participants completed half the task behind a screen. Participants produced iconic gestures significantly more for praxic items (i.e., items with physically manipulable properties) than non-praxic items, regardless of visibility of partner. These findings support the semantic specificity hypothesis, whereby a gesture is integrally associated with the semantic properties of the word it accompanies. Where those semantic properties include a high motor component the likelihood of a gesture being produced is increased, irrespective of communication demands.

My comments: First, Iconic gestures or illustrators are closely related to speech, illustrating what is being said. Iconic gestures are different from other gestures in that they are used to show physical, concrete items. I see this this happen all the time, most often when people are talking on the phone. It appears that we feel most comfortable when speaking and gesturing, it is natural for us. This is why, when we are talking to someone and there are no gestures, or the amount of gestures changes it is significant.

Vocal and Physiological Changes in Response to the Physical Attractiveness of Conversational Partners

We examined how individuals may change their voices when speaking to attractive versus unattractive individuals, and if it were possible for others to perceive these vocal changes. In addition, we examined if any concurrent physiological effects occurred when speaking with individuals who varied in physical attractiveness. We found that both sexes used a lower-pitched voice and showed a higher level of physiological arousal when speaking to the more attractive, opposite-sex target. Furthermore, independent raters evaluated the voice samples directed toward the attractive target (versus the unattractive target) as sounding more pleasant when the two voice samples from the same person presented had a reasonably perceptually noticeable difference in pitch. These findings may have implications for the role voice plays in mate selection and attraction.

My comments: Not only is this significant for the whole "finding of a mate" thingy; Pitch can and does always tell us the amount of interest and/or the amount of comfort or discomfort; and this directly relates to social status and/or authority figures... Once you notice and understand the characteritics of the voice and how it relates to reading people, it may be more telling than facial expressions...