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Location: TBA  |  Thursday, February 7  |  8:30 AM - 4:30 PM

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The eighth annual SPSP Nonverbal Preconference will feature four exciting keynote presentations by Leanne ten Brinke, Sara Hodges, Michal Kosinski, and Jessica Tracy, and competitively-selected brief talks and posters. We look forward to bringing together scholars from different backgrounds in order to facilitate communication and collaboration!


8:00 – 8:45: Check in and breakfast

8:45 – 9:00: Introductory remarks: Sally Farley, University of Baltimore

9:00 – 9:40: The Surprising Secret to Good Mind Reading is No Secrets and No Surprises

Sara HodgesUniversity of Oregon

Want to be a good mind reader? Unless you have superpowers, the consistent route to more accurate inferences of someone else’s thoughts is a decidedly mundane strategy: Build your inferences about what the target person is thinking from content that is likely to overlap with the target’s actual thoughts. Specifically, when trying to guess the content of people’s thoughts (rather than guess their affect, which is more commonly associated with nonverbal decoding), inferences are more likely to be accurate when they 1) correspond to what the target person is saying and 2) resemble what a person in the target’s context is generally likely to think (i.e., are stereotypical). This simple advice not only helps explain why it has been hard to find individual difference correlates of inference accuracy, but it has also allowed us to predict conditions that will reliably hurt mind-reading success: when targets don’t say what they are thinking; when we don’t trust what the target is saying; when our stereotypes are wrong; and when the target is not stereotypical.

9:45 – 10:25: Beyond Accuracy: Interpersonal, Emotional, and Physiological Reactions to Deception

Leanne ten BrinkeUniversity of Denver

For 60 years, the study of human lie detection has explicitly asked people, “Is that person lying or telling the truth?” in an attempt to quantify whether and to what extent people can accurately determine credibility. The result of these efforts is the dismal conclusion that people are poor lie detectors. In a meta-analysis, Bond and DePaulo (2006) reported an average accuracy of 54%. Our research explores novel reactions to observing liars, versus truth-tellers. Findings indicate that observers experience increased physiological threat and generalized arousal in response to observing high-stakes emotional lies, versus truths. Further, observers experience less sympathy, are less likely to help, and comfort for deceptive murderers versus genuinely-distressed relatives, all pleading for the return of their missing loved one. Observers’ reactions are mediated by emotional facial expressions suggesting that, although behavioral cues to deception are generally weak and unreliable, they do impact observer reactions to deception.

10:30 – 10:45: Coffee break

10:45 – 12:00: Brief talks

12:00 – 12:45: Lunch (included in registration)

12:50 – 1:50: Brief talks

1:50 – 2:50: Poster session (overlaps with coffee break)

2:50 – 3:30: Measuring Personality from Facial Images

Michal Kosinski, Stanford Graduate School of Business

The human face might be the most accessible source of information about our traits, dispositions, and identities. Some of those characteristics, such as emotions, age, gender, or race, are prominently displayed. Yet, face can also communicate more intimate traits, such as political ideology, general health, developmental history, and genetic disorders. In this talk I will show that artificial intelligence can be trained to determine personality, political views and sexual orientation from digital facial images. I will introduce the methods that can be used to study the links between psycho-demographic traits and facial features, discuss facial features that are particularly revealing about given traits, and consider the implications of this findings to social science and privacy. 

3:35 – 4:15: The Form, Function, and Adaptive Nature of the Pride and Shame Nonverbal Displays

Jessica L. Tracy, University of British Columbia

Over the past decade, research has accumulated to suggest that pride and shame, two self-conscious emotions closely linked to self-esteem formation and hierarchy negotiation, are associated with distinct, universally recognized and displayed nonverbal expressions, which are reliant on bodily and facial behaviors. I will review evidence supporting the distinctiveness and innateness of these two displays, as well as the adaptive social function served by each. Specifically, studies suggest that the pride display functions as a cross-cultural automatic signal of an individual’s deservedness of higher social rank, while the shame display sends a message of low rank that may serve an appeasing function. I will also highlight several newer lines of work building off these findings, suggesting that: (a) pride displays signal prestige—a form of high rank based on expertise and earned respect—but not dominance—a form of rank based on intimidation, (b) when shown inappropriately, such as while requesting aid, pride displays can have a negative impact on displayers, reducing the amount of help they receive, and (c) shame displays shown by recovering alcoholics discussing their addiction predict their likelihood of relapse, suggesting that these behaviors may serve a useful diagnostic function. Together, these studies highlight the importance of these two complex emotion expressions and their extra-facial nonverbal displays.

4:15-4:30: Closing remarks: Judy Hall, Northwestern University



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Organizers are still finalizing the program and will accept abstract submissions from September 1 – October 31. Check back then for more information on submitting.


Sally FarleyUniversity of Baltimore
Judy HallNorthwestern University


2018 Preconference  |  2017 Preconference  |  2016 Preconference

2019 Annual Convention
February 7 - 9, 2019
Oregon Convention Center
777 NE Martin Luther King Jr Blvd
Portland, Oregon 97232, USA