Humintell Photos at the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia

For those readers and followers in the Philadelphia region, you’re in for a special treat!

At the Franklin Institute there is a new interactive exhibit entitled “Emotions are Universal” that features images provided by Humintell!

The matching game features 28 faces from people young and old, representing a wide variety of backgrounds and emotions. Match the faces that display the same emotion and you’re a winner!

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New Ways to Predict Which Marriages Will Succeed

wedding pic 2A recent paper in the journal Science highlighted in the Wall Street journal, adds important insights into successful marriages. Led by James McNulty of Florida State University, researchers involved members of 135 newlywed couples and followed them over a period of four years. The couples answered a standard survey about the quality of their marriages and the researchers collected similar data over the course of the study.

What did they find? Not surprisingly, ratings of marital satisfaction declined over time, something that has been reported by previous research. In addition, the researchers also learned that the answers from newlyweds predicted nothing about marital satisfaction four years later.

However, the scientists also measured something else in those newlyweds, using what they called an “associative priming task.” This priming task involves briefly flashing a series of words like “wonderful” or “odious” on a screen and subjects have to quickly press one of two buttons, depending on whether the word has positive or negative connotations.

With this comes some subconscious manipulation: just before each word, the researchers flashed up a picture of a random face for an instant (300 milliseconds). This time was selected as the image flashed too fast for people to be consciously certain about what they saw, but was enough time for their subconscious, emotional brain circuitry to be certain.

If the face evoked positive feelings, the brain immediately took on something akin to a positive mind-set; if the word flashed up an instant later is a positive one, the brain quickly detects it as such. But if the word is negative, there is an instant of subconscious dissonance—”I was feeling great, but now I have to think about that word that means ‘inconsiderate jerk who doesn’t replace the toilet paper.’ ” And it takes a few milliseconds longer to hit the “negative” key. Conversely, display faces with negative connotations, and there is that dissonance-induced minuscule delay in identifying positive terms.

So in the study, the rapid-fire sequence of faces/words included a picture of one’s new spouse, revealing automatic feelings about the person’s beloved. That led to the key finding: the more subconscious negativity in a newlywed, the larger the decline in marital satisfaction four years later.

The subjects did not understand what the priming task was about and their automatic responses to the flashing images and words were unrelated to their answers on the questionnaire they filled out. Although it is unrealistic to expect future married couples to take this computerized test before saying “I do”, studies like this remind us that “we are subject to endless, internal biological forces of which we are unaware.”

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell Under Scrutiny

As reported on CBS This Morning: after a second video of Baltimore Ravens player Ray Rice surfaced, this one showing him punching his then-fiancee, Janay Palmer, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell was under fire. Many critics questioned how Goodell could not have seen the video before giving Rice his original two-game suspension.

Goodell addressed the controversy in his first interview since suspending Rice indefinitely from the league, speaking exclusively with “CBS This Morning” co-host Norah O’Donnell.

What do you think? Based on his statement and nonverbal behavior in this interview, do you believe Commissioner Goodell? What is his nonverbal behavior saying?

Gestures and Body Language in Public Speaking

If not used properly, gestures and body language can be distracting and detract from the message of your speech.

Learn to hone your speaking skills by channeling nervous energy into purposeful movement by watching this helpful video below from Toastmasters, a world leader in communication and leadership development.

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To learn more about gestures and nonverbal behavior, take a look at our “The World of Gestures” webinar recording!

Angry Facial Expressions in Negotiation

Dangerous Demeanor Detector- HumintellWouldn’t you want to know the negotiation secret to closing the deal or securing that lucrative contract? Now new research out of Harvard University suggests your best weapon may be your facial expressions.

In a new paper entitled The Commitment Function of Angry Facial Expressions published in Psychological Science, Harvard University psychology post-doc Lawrence Ian Reed suggests that angry facial expressions seem to boost the effectiveness of threats without actual aggression.

Reed and colleagues Peter DeScioli of Stony Brook University and Steven Pinker of Harvard University conducted an online study of over 870 participants who were told they were playing a negotiation game.

As described in an article on Science Daily, during the study, participants acting as the “proposer,” would decide how to split a sum of $1.00 with another participant, the “responder.” Each person would receive the specified sum if the responder accepted the split that was offered, but neither person would receive any money if the responder rejected the split.

Before making their offers, each proposer was shown a threat that supposedly came from the responder. In reality, the responder was played by the same female actor, who was instructed to create specific facial expressions in the video clips. One clip showed her making a neutral expression, while another showed her making an angry expression.

The clips were accompanied by a written demand for either an equal cut of 50% or a larger cut of 70%, (which would leave only 30% for the proposer).

After they saw the threat, the proposers were asked to state their offer.

The data revealed that the responder’s facial expression did have an impact on the amount offered by the proposer, but only when the responder demanded the larger share.

That is, proposers offered more money if the responder showed an angry expression compared to when they showed a neutral expression, but only when the responder demanded 70% of the take.

Facial expression had no influence on proposers’ offers when the responder demanded an equal share, presumably because the demand was already viewed as credible.

Interestingly, proposers offered greater amounts in response to angry facial expressions compared to neutral expressions even when they were told that they belonged to a “typical responder,” rather than their specific partner.

The researchers claim this works because genuine facial expressions of emotions are hard to fake. Since it’s difficult to fake your emotional expression, people unconsciously assign that more importance than what you’re actually saying. “We pay attention to what people ‘say’ with their faces more than what they say with words,” Reed says.

“The effectiveness of the threat depends on how credible it is,” he says. An angry expression makes a threat more credible because people intuitively think it’s genuine. Whoever you’re negotiating with is more likely to think you’ll follow through on taking your business elsewhere or walking away on a job offer if your words are delivered with the look you’d give a person with a cart full of groceries in the express checkout lane.

Copyright © Humintell 2014