A Nod To Positive Impressions

A team of researchers in Japan have demonstrated that the act of nodding raises likability and approachability.

AsianScientist (Dec. 8, 2017) – Scientists in Japan have demonstrated that the act of nodding positively affects an individual’s likability and approachability. They published their findings in Perception.

In many countries, nodding is a communicative signal that means approval, and head shaking is a gesture of denial. However, empirical evidence associating head movements to attractiveness, likability and approachability have been scarce.

Hokkaido University Associate Professor Jun-ichiro Kawahara and Yamagata University Associate Professor Takayuki Osugi previously demonstrated that the bowing motion of computer-generated, three-dimensional figures enhanced their perceived attractiveness. In this study, the team conducted experiments to rate how nodding and head shaking affects perceived trait impressions.

Short video clips of computer-generated figures nodding, shaking their head or staying motionless were shown to 49 Japanese men and women aged 18 years or older. The research participants then rated the figures’ attractiveness, likability and approachability on a scale of 0 to 100.

The researchers found that the likability of the nodding figures was approximately 30 percent higher, and their approachability 40 percent higher than that of figures shaking their heads or staying motionless. The results were similar for both the male and female observers. The head shaking motion did not influence the ratings for likability and approachability.

“Our study also demonstrated that nodding primarily increased likability attributable to personality traits, rather than to physical appearance,” Kawahara explained.

The study is the first to show that perceived positive attitudes could arise simply from observing another’s subtle head motions. Their findings will likely be helpful in providing instructions about manners and hospitality, as well as the evaluation of web-based avatars and humanoid robots.

“Generalizing these results requires a degree of caution because computer-generated female faces were used to manipulate head motions in our experiments. Further study involving male figures, real faces and observers from different cultural backgrounds is needed to apply these findings to real-world situations,” Kawahara added.

The article can be found at: Osugi & Kawahara (2017) Effects of Head Nodding and Shaking Motions on Perceptions of Likeability and Approachability.


Source: Hokkaido University; Photo: Kawahara & Osugi.
Disclaimer: This article does not necessarily reflect the views of AsianScientist or its staff.

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