Thursday, October 14, 2010

Integrating with Humanity

    One morning this week I went to go get coffee and while I was waiting for my large cappuccino I performed a small act of research concerning nonverbal communication.  At one of the tables near the sandwich refrigerator, a young man was talking to his computer quite animatedly using his hands to gesture at the screen (or the camera right above the screen).  He was speaking in Italian, so there were not many verbal cues that I could depend on, but I could decipher that he was emotionally aroused, debating with the person on the other end of the internet.  In deference to the medium, he was gesticulating within the visual bounds of the camera, really trying to get his message across without letting his hands fly too far away from the line of sight.  His intention, most likely, was to provide information to the other person and to accentuate his position, though I have seen a person driving, with a bluetooth headset, gesturing to the person on the other side of the phone.  In that case, the automaticity of talking with one’s hands overrides the practicality of the conversation methodology. 
    This, in one way, reflects the concept of expressiveness as defined by DePaulo and Friedman (1), a concept that is culturally dependent and runs in families.  DePaulo has also found that “expressive people are often regarded as more attractive than unexpressive people”, which feeds back to the man at the table, talking to the computer with his hands.  Is he more attractive than if he were just talking?  I will probably have to go back  some time this week to test that particular hypothesis. 
    The other interesting idea from the readings of this week concerns Bandura’s work on Social Learning Theory and the paper on “Imitation of Film-mediated Aggressive Models.” (2) I am not current on the aggressive modeling role of media, but I am interested in the degree of “compassion fatigue” that these communication methods engender.  Does someone who sees crime regularly in the media become jaded toward that topic in general?  Which intervening variables alter the system?     

(1) DePaulo, B.M. & Friedman, H.S. (1998). Nonverbal Communication. In D. Gilbert, S. Fiske, & G. Lindzey (eds.) Handbook of Social Psychology, 4th edition. Boston: McGraw Hill, Vol. II, pp. 3-40.

(2) Bandura, A., Ross, D. & Ross, S.A. Imitation of film-mediated aggressive models. Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology, 1963, 66, 3-11.

No comments: