Saturday, May 18, 2013

The Secret is in the hands

To best understand someone, don't look at their face, look at their hands. That's the finding of Stanford University researchers. Here's why: Michael Slepian and his team showed videos to volunteers from the World Series of Poker. Some videos showed player's faces, other clips showed their hands. Some clips showed chest, arms and head. The volunteers weren't very good at figuring out the quality of the player's hands when watching just the player's face. Their guesses improved when the player's could be seen from the waist up. But the best guesses came when the volunteers could see only the person's hands. Slepian speculates that people break their rhythm in body movements when anxious. While the researchers didn't look into how this might play out with sign language, their findings may suggest that signers could be more likely to spot anxiety and thus deception on the part of other people because of the awareness sign language users have of a speaker's hands and arms. Details of the Stanford study are in the journal Psychological Science.

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