The influence of Non-Verbal Communication and interaction frame on cognitive-affective functioning: a pilot psychophysiological study

Davide Crivelli, Annalisa Gaia Pavanello

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Abstract

Communication is an intentional, complex, and multi-faceted process qualifying human interactions. It is a widely-accepted and well-supported notion that Non-Verbal Communication (NVC, understood as the ensemble of communication channels that do not primarily rely on linguistic contents and transmission modalities) actually conveys a large portion of exchanged information and play a critical role in defining both an intended message and hidden meanings and attitudes with regard to the interlocutor. Apart from exchanging pieces of information, by communicating we shape our identity and our social image and we create a shared vision of ourselves and other social agents, and NVC is particularly important in those processes. The influence of NVC on actual cognitive-affective functioning of interlocutors in an interaction situation is however still a matter of debate. We then devised a pilot study to test whether a positive vs. negative non-verbal communication frame might up- vs. down-regulate cognitive performance and emotion appraisal in a group of 20 participants (10 females, 10 males). In particular, we decided to focus on a simulated job interview and assessment procedure so to enact an asymmetric interaction schema stressing the role of performance. Further, the positive vs. negative frame was defined by manipulating also haptics (i.e. NVC behaviours concerning touch) and proxemics (i.e. inter-agents distance and relative position in the space). Participants were asked to undergo the simulated standardized job interview, a focused attention test (computerized Stroop task), and an emotion appraisal test based on IAPS stimuli. As for the experimental interaction, the positive and negative frame groups showed, as expected, increased arousal but only partially different autonomic profiles. Groups qualitatively differed also in electrophysiological responses (N100 event-related potential) at the computerized Stroop test, with the positive group presenting ampler deflections. During the emotion appraisal task groups do not significantly differed in terms of cortical oscillatory and autonomic profiles, while participants in the negative frame group reported qualitatively higher arousal ratings in response to IAPS stimuli and rated negative stimuli as less unpleasant. Present first evidences suggest that a connoted NVC frame may partly influence cognitive-affective functioning; further research is however needed to confirm and strengthen those qualitative findings. In particular, the mediation role of personality traits may plausibly account for partially inconsistent results and is worth specific future investigations.
Lingua originaleEnglish
pagine (da-a)117-118
Numero di pagine2
RivistaNeuropsychological Trends
Volume20
Stato di pubblicazionePubblicato - 2016
EventoXXIV Congresso Nazionale della Società Italiana di Psicofisiologia - Milano
Durata: 27 ott 201629 ott 2016

Keywords

  • Affective context
  • EEG, Autonomic activity
  • Framing
  • Interaction
  • Non-verbal communication
  • Performance

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