Abstract Nicola Plant 24th October 2013
This work is concerned with how bodily behaviour can aid an intersubjective understanding of the experience of another. That embodied interaction, such as gestures, posture and expressions, help one understand and communicate in the expression of felt experience and emotion. When we talk about felt experiences, such as physical pains and pleasures, how do we use our embodiment to communicate? These are situations in which a speaker can take advantage of their own embodiment to produce a non-verbal display of the experience they are describing. For example, wincing to describe a pain or holding their sides to describe a belly laugh. How do attentive, cooperative listeners normally respond to these displays?
Research so far has gathered a corpus of speech, video and body movement data in a laboratory setting in which participants describe to each other recalled experiences that invoke significant elements of embodied experience, for example a toothache or a yawn, that could provoke empathetic responses. One hypothesis is that embodied interactions help us form an intersubjective understanding by mimetically embodying the expressive behaviour of another as an interpretative tool. However findings suggest that mimesis is used in a more strategic manner to the automatic mimicry of each others behaviours. Listeners produce empathetic feedback, such as Motor Mimicry, the performative display of an expected expressive behaviour in reaction to an experience in the perspective of another, to demonstrate an understanding of the experience of another.
Currently the research turns to the situation in which participants align posture to one another during an interaction. As mimicry is not apparent in the gestures of the addressee, further inquiry is looking into the occurrence of posture congruence, as a manifestation of mimicry within the interaction. This inquiry takes advantage of the motion-capture data collected. By aligning the root object of each participants skeleton as provided by the marker data, normalising the skeletons to account for size differences, posture alignment can be compared by taking the difference between each marker. Comparing the difference over time would also be an indication if the interlocutors gradually converge posture over the course of a conversation. Alternatively whether there are certain situations in which they converge more than others, such as turn taking or repair.
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