Invited talk: "Show me how you move  and I tell you who you are : body motion and personality"

Research in recent years has shown that people are quite accurate in judging another person’s personality at zero acquaintance. This is even the case when only thin slices of behavior or short video clips of one person are presented to another person. Information about personality could be used by the recipients to structure their own behavior and to make predictions about the possible outcome of an interaction. In addition we assume that the communication of personality plays a paramount role for the structuring of interactions. However, it is still unclear which behavioral or appearance cues are used to judge personality.

Non-verbal behavior seems to have a strong personality dependent component, and thus is has the potential to be the main cue for making such judgments. In contrast to other approaches, however, our approach is based on the assumption that personality factors and their neural correlates directly influence the quality of body movements and thus are unfalsifiable signals. We hypothesize that information about personality in nonverbal communication is encoded in the “quality” of body movements and in the patterns formed by these movements over time.

I will present the results of several projects where we showed a relation the quality of body movements analyzed by digital image processing algorithms with the big five personality components (extroversion, neuroticism, conscientiousness, agreeableness and openness) in interations between male and females. In other projects we were able to show interrelations with additional personality components like shyness (dancing behaviour of males and females) and sensations-seeking behaviour (playing action games by males).

These findings have a considerable impact on our understanding of human communication and its principles. We suggest that the commonly used sequential information processing approach (A signals and B decodes it and responds) is replaced by a dynamic theory of human communication where the communicators share a common platform of knowledge about each other in realtime.