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Title: Social cues in context : the interdependence between social cue senders and receivers
Author: Gilder, Thandiwe Sian Edwards
Awarding Body: Prifysgol Bangor University
Current Institution: Bangor University
Date of Award: 2012
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Most of the research exploring social communication has focused on the 'sender' perspective, examining how and why people choose to produce the cues they send to others. This thesis explores the experience of social interaction from the 'receiver' perspective. Broadly, this work examines how receivers perceive and interpret social cues and make social judgments, depending on senders' states and intentions. It relies on data from both laboratory-based experimentation and from naturalistic face-to-face interactions. The first section of the thesis examines how changing a receiver's internal social state, i.e., manipulating feelings of social 'need,' alters the utility or subjective desirability of a social reward, specifically, a genuine smile. My experimental findings show that high states of social need enhance the utility of genuine smiles and cause the devaluation of polite smiles - important social tokens in their own right. These findings extend to the face- to-face social environment, in which I show that this social state manipulation changes behaviour, including the use of smiles, and ultimately a dyad's shared experience. In the second part of this work, I explore how judgments receivers make about senders in one context influence their interpretation of the same senders in a new setting. I ask, for example, how the presence of different types of social cues shape receiver judgments and the extent to which these serve as useful and valid cues to future sender behaviour. Findings show that when receivers make judgments about senders in a naturalistic context, these judgments do not enhance their ability to decode senders' behaviour in a new setting. However, senders do signal some traits honestly, e.g., trustworthiness, and these traits induce biases in receiver interpretations. Specifically, senders' affective cues appear to bias receiver ratings such that expressions of positive affect induce more positive ratings for high trustworthy senders (although not for those merely rated as high trustworthy), and vice versa for low trustworthy senders. Finally, I ask whether a sender's prior beliefs about a receiver's behaviour can influence that receiver's behaviour in a specifically predictable way. I did this in the context of three "experimenter effects" studies. The results of this work show that experimenters unwittingly serve as stimuli in the experiments that they conduct, and can elicit specific behavioural patterns in their participants.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available