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Mason et al. Thin Slicing Divorce

Recently separated couples→ using a 30 second verbal account of participant’s separation experience, unacquainted judges achieved a high degree of consensus concerning participant’s psychological adjustment 90 days later.

It was not the verbal content but the emotion that seemed to predict success of adjustment.

Implications of that idea: we may be able to help bc we are reasonably accurate when listening to others.
• 30sec audio of people talking about their divorce or reading transcript
• both reading and listening were accurate at the time

***However, reading was not very predictive three months later



Just from photos, intelligence correlated with

physical attractiveness
*which may represent SES, attention/expectations, good genes


Successful CEO's: Rule & Ambady (2008)

Top and bottom 25 CEOs on the Forbes 500 list

Composite of power related characteristics and ratings of leadership
• also worked for female CEOs

African-American CEOs tend to be baby faced, which works against white CEOs
• possibly less threatening to counteract stereotypes


Political Attitudes

Studies have found that can look at a photo and tell if someone is more conservative or liberal.

Students saw quick flashes of photo and rated competence and those people were more likely elected.



You can pick up certain levels of anxiety based on photo

o trait – photo
o state – verbal information



Males with higher facial width to height tend to be seen as more aggressive and are actually more aggressive based on different measures.

Females tend to like this dominance quality, but these men are seen as having more explicit prejudice, less trustworthy

Anger linked to status/competence in men, while it is frowned upon for women



As a social species, very quick to judge emotions based on facial expression
• Even blind individuals demonstrate similar emotional facial expressions

• Although context can impede our ability to judge facial expression

When asked to think of angry and happy faces, people tend to think male angry and female happy
• when you're angry, you want to look intimidating, look more male
• when afraid, face looks younger – possible cute to protect infant child
• when angry, face looks older

***fear and anger are such common expressions is unlikely gain from visual learning and more and evolutionary function
o fear look – "wide-eyed" more peripheral scanning, easier to see where you're looking, also possible cue tribe mates to look in the direction of danger

Emotional Expressiveness – naturally expressive people tend to be more attractive, popular, extroverted, especially if the emotions are mostly positive



Kids looking at mother without seeing interlocutor, can tell whether interaction is with stranger or friend, strictly nonverbal
• skill learned very early, at around ~5 years almost as good as adults

Subtle racial attitudes picked up by actors interacting with African-Americans

Nonverbal behavior interacting with thin versus heavy actresses
o correlational data indicates that the areas of country were these shows are popular show negative eating patterns



Power stances

Lower status is expected to maintain eye contact, higher status is free to look around

Anger perceived as moving ahead in business
*Competence is perceived from anger, the result of being prevented from accomplishing goals

Anger for women, however, is perceived as emotional or out-of-control

e.g. people conferred status to an angry Bill Clinton versus a contrite which did not look presidential

High power vs Low power poses
o can raise testosterone even better than cognitive training
o person feels this raise in testosterone and others will perceive it

SES – high = disengaged, aloof

Can somewhat tell sexual orientation from photo, but greater accuracy from longer video clips


Clinical Implications

What clients possibly pick up from therapists

Ambady 2002 therapists’ nonverbal cues
• Found that therapist that displayed positive nonverbal behavior cues tended to have patients with better outcomes


Gender Differences in Thin-Slicing

Women are better at nonverbal sensitivity, both sending and receiving cues

Women have better empathic accuracy
o possibly evolutionary function, identifying infants' nonverbal cues

*if the men are paid, however, empathic accuracy improves – so they are not necessarily worse, maybe they just don't care as much

Kids who get ostracized usually are bad at empathic accuracy
o good empathic accuracy helps kids with adjustment, even if few friends

Depressed female showed greater deficit in empathic accuracy than depressed males
• however, possibly due to baseline effects – i.e., greater observed decrease in females?


Spontaneous Trait Transference

When people are perceived as possessing the very traits they describe in others


Verbal Behavior

Speaking voice can communicate: Mood, Leadership,

Masculine vs feminine voice leads to certain impression
• Masculine voice are perceived as more competent

Mason et al. 2010 Thin slicing divorce: more telling when people were talking about divorce bc could tell about emotion


Spontaneous Trait INference

We automatically infer traits from behavior


Renthrow and Gosling (2006): Music and interpersonal perception

Randomly pairing college student and telling them to get acquainted with that person in an online chat

Asked people to list top ten songs, create CD

CD rated by external judges on various traits, values, personality

*High level of agreement among judges

*Some areas also had high level of accuracy, representative of personality

Sometimes this list can be more accurate then photo or video