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Title: Intersubjectivity, empathy and nonverbal interaction
Author: Plant, Nicola Jane
ISNI:       0000 0004 7653 7269
Awarding Body: Queen Mary University of London
Current Institution: Queen Mary, University of London
Date of Award: 2018
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Empathy is thought to involve cognitive processes that depend on the simulation of another's experiences. Embodiment has a key role for empathy as vehicle for recreating the experience of another. This thesis explores the validity of this claim by investigating what people do when communicating about their experiences. In particular, what is the contribution of our embodied resources such as gestures, postures and expressions to empathy and intersubjectivity? These questions are explored against two corpora of dyadic interactions. One features conversations of people describing recalled embodied experiences to each other, such as painful or pleasant bodily experiences like a headache or laughing. The other features a series of interactions designed to emulate informal conversations. The analysis uses hand coded gestures, feedback and clari cation questions, body movement data and a new approach to quantifying posture congruence. The analysis shows the embodied responses observed within these interactions are intentionally placed and formulated to facilitate the incremental process of a conversation as a joint activity. This is inconsistent with accounts that propose there is an automatic and non-conscious propensity for people to mimic each other in social interactions. Quantitative analysis show that patterns of gesture type and use, feedback form and posture di er systematically between interlocutors. Additionally, results show that resources provided by embodiment are allocated strategically. Nonverbal contributions increase in frequency and adjust their form responding to problems in conversation such as during clari cation questions and repair. Detailed qualitative analysis shows the instances that appear to display mimicry within the interaction function rather as embodied adaptations or paraphrases. In their contrast with the original contribution they demonstrate a speci c understanding of the type of experience being conveyed. This work shows that embodiment is an important resource for intersubjectivity and embodied communication is speci cally constructed to aid the collaborative, sequential and intersubjective progression of dialogue.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: EPSRC
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Electronic Engineering and Computer Science ; Empathy ; intersubjectivity ; gesture ; posture ; expression