The face-to-face communication. Signals of understanding and non-understanding
Nijmegen : MPI
MPI series in Psycholinguistics ; 140
Number of pages
Radboud University, 25 januari 2019
Promotor : Levinson, S.C. Co-promotor : Holler, J.A.M.
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SubjectMPI series in Psycholinguistics; Interactional Foundations of Language; Language & Communication
Unlike most other animals, humans tend to face each other in everyday communication. This allows us to rely on the face when we communicate. Paul Hömke investigated the face of he listener in face-to-face communication, specifically blinking and brow movements. He found that long blinks are used as a communicative signal of understanding, conveying “I’ve received enough information for current purposes, please go on”. Listeners’ furrowed brow, on the other hand, was shown to signal a lack of understanding, conveying “I’ve not received enough information for current purposes, please clarify”. Closing the eyelids by blinking (as if having seen enough) and furrowing the eyebrows (as if not seeing clearly) point to a metaphorical use of the muscles surrounding the eyes, signaling sufficient or insufficient understanding. Thus, in everyday social interaction, it is not only the eyes themselves, but crucially, the regions surrounding the eyes, that serve as windows to the mind.
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