Blink blink: how we communicate by blinking

Blink Blink: How we communicate by blinking

The way to blink has an influence on the speech behavior of an interlocutor. Results from the max planck institute for psycholinguistics in nijmegen indicate this.

The team led by paul homke was able to show that test subjects gave shorter answers to questions when the individual blinks of their counterpart lasted longer. Slower blinking possibly signals to the interlocutor that one has understood his answer, the researchers write in the scientific journal "PLOS one".

People blink more than 10 times on average.000 times a day. The blinks serve among other things to wet the eyeballs so that they do not dry out. But do blinks also serve as a kind of feedback within a conversation, similar to a nod of the head?

To find out, homke and his team had 35 test subjects talk to computer-generated conversation partners, so-called avatars. The avatars asked questions such as: "how was your weekend, what did you do??"The test persons then answered the question – without knowing what the experiment was actually about.

During some of the subjects’ answers, the avatars reacted by nodding every now and then and blinking briefly (208 milliseconds) in each case. In some answers, blinks accompanying nods were longer (607 milliseconds).

When analyzing the data, homke found that answers during which the avatar showed long blinks were several seconds shorter on average. However, none of the test persons had consciously noticed that the avatar had blinked for different lengths of time.

Researchers believe that a slower blink might give the speaker more of a sense of having been understood. However, it could not be excluded that nodding in combination with long blinks simply sends the signal to stop speaking.

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