Friends of the Nonverbal Communication Club, this week we present the paper “Intrapersonal Behavioral Coordination and Expressive Accuracy During First Impressions” by Latif, N.; Human, L. J.; Capozzi, F. and Ristic, J. (2021). In this article the authors examine whether expressive accuracy is related to the variability in the coordination between a person’s head and body movements.

If there’s something that worry us in social interaction is, without doubts, the first impression. How do others perceive us? Are we transmitting how we really are or, on the contrary, a wrong image altered by being nervous?

During the history of the nonverbal behavior, numerous aspects have been studied in order to understand other people’s personalities attending to how they express theirselves. For instance, and as we already know, much attention has been paid to facial expressions, gestures, or body movements.

What’s new about this study is the authors choose a very specific aspect (variability in the coordination between a person’s head and body movements) and try to find a nexus between it and how accurately people perceive our personality in first impressions.

But why this topic?

Simply because head and body movements play a very special role in social communication. As an example: we use them to transmit interest in a conversation, to show we are listening or paying attention, maybe that we want to go…

Due to the importance of these movements, and to the interest in writing an article about a very specific aspect of human behavior, authors decided to investigate whether expressive accuracy, and how others perceive our personality, is related to the variability in the coordination between a person’s head and body movements.

In order to that, they made an experiment which consisted in recruit, on one hand, 105 volunteers, at least 18 years of age (the observed group) and, on the other hand, 94 (the observer group).

The observed group completed an initial personality questionnaire, plus, family or friends of each individual were asked about their personalities to contrast the information and consolidate a personality profile. In addition to that, each one of the members of the observed group completed a video-recorded interview, so the other group could examinate their nonverbal behavior.

The observer group watched the interview and answered the personality questionnaire for each volunteer of the other group.

The results were clear: people that, during the interview showed a great variability in coordination between head and body movements, were perceived (according to the personality profile obtained at the beginning of the experiment) more accurately than the ones with a low variability.

Plus, a correlation between expressing a higher variability and being perceived as socially skilled was observed.

Other important data obtained in the study, is that these movements’ variability seems to have a relation with personality traits that are easily to observe, such as if we are extroverted, energetic or nice to others. It happens the other way round if we are talking about personality traits hard to observe, for instance being depressed or blue: this seems to have less relation.

It’s important to mention that, when variability in head and body movements’ coordination is low, looks like others don’t detect our personality so easily.

But, why does variability in head and body movements’ coordination seem to promote expressive accuracy?

Chiefly, is possible that, when this variability is high, it’s easier for us to shed clues to others about our personality. If we move our head and hands when we’re talking about something, and then somebody changes the topic and we stop moving and freeze, the person we’re talking to is eager to think that the first subject was more important to us than the second. We’re giving clues to our listener.

Secondly, variability in coordination of these movements affects to our interlocutor’s attention. Namely, these changes keep the person listening to us, watching our faces, our body, our gestures. The opposite happens when the variability is low. Thus, when variability is high, the person we’re talking to would catch more easily our personality traits, just because pays more attention to us.

Despite the results of the study and its conclusions are solid, authors mention the necessity of keeping delving into the subject, of obtaining corrections, to get more accurate answers to such complex issues.


Write A Comment

NonVerbal Communication Blog