The goal of this project is to develop tools for measuring how we perceive and provide interpretations for emotional body language (EBL). EBL is a critically un-researched means of signaling emotions. It is widely agreed that body language is a powerful source of information about emotions and intentions in our daily encounters with people and constitutes a very important nonverbal means of communication.
Somebody's body language influences us within a fraction of a second. We are attracted or put back by it, we feel welcomed or our fear is triggered depending how we resonate to bodily encounters. While these intuitions are widely shared and are the topic of many popular books on body language, there is virtually no scientific research to backing up our intuitions that EBL is perceived and understood effortlessly.
This is not due to lack of interest in body language these but to the absence of scientific methods for investigating body language and to the fact that no tools are yet available for measuring how well we perceive body language and how competent we normally are to provide interpretations for it. At the perceptual level EBL directly communicates the emotion, as in facial blushing. At the highest cognitively level we are able to provide a complex interpretation for body language and this included our skills at using EBL intentionally to create an emotion in the observer or even to mislead him about our real feelings.
We examine on the one hand the evolutionary roots and on the other the highest cognitive manifestations of communication with EBL and develop a coherent set of tools applicable across the range of EBL manifestations and providing a grip on cultural diversity. Finally, we will employ EBL as a powerful tool to explore the recent exciting discovery of a cortical specialization into intrinsic, self-related vs. extrinsic- environmentally-related processing.
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