Head Nodding and Hand Coordination Across Dyads in Different Conversational Contexts

Falk, Patrick; Cañigueral, Roser; Ward, Jamie A and Hamilton, Antonia F de C. 2023. Head Nodding and Hand Coordination Across Dyads in Different Conversational Contexts. Journal of Nonverbal Behaviour, ISSN 0191-5886 [Article] (Forthcoming)

head_nods_falk_preprint_2023.pdf - Submitted Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution.

Download (2MB) | Preview

Abstract or Description

Patrick Falk, Roser Cañigueral, Jamie A Ward et al. , 03 November 2023, PREPRINT (Version 1) available at Research Square [https://doi.org/10.21203/rs.3.rs-3526068/v1]

This paper aims to explore what different patterns of head nodding and hand movement coordination mean in conversation by recording and analysing interpersonal coordination as it naturally occurs in social interactions. Understanding the timing and at which frequencies such movement behaviours occur can help us answer how and why we use these signals. Here we use high-resolution motion capture to examine three different types of two-person conversation involving different types of information-sharing, in order to explore the potential meaning and coordination of head nodding and hand motion signals. We also test if the tendency to engage in fast or slow nodding behaviour is a fixed personality trait that differs between individuals.

Our results show coordinated slow nodding only in a picture-description task, which implies that this behaviour is not a universal signal of affiliation but is context driven. We also find robust fast nodding behaviour in the two contexts where novel information is exchanged. For hand movement, we find hints of low frequency coordination during one-way information sharing, but found no consistent signalling during information recall. Finally, we show that nodding is consistently driven by context but is not a useful measure of individual differences in social skills. We interpret these results in terms of theories of nonverbal communication and consider how these methods will help advance automated analyses of human conversation behaviours.

Item Type:


Identification Number (DOI):


Additional Information:

The research was supported by the Leverhulme Trust.


Non-verbal behaviour, conversational context, social interaction, interpersonal coordination, head nodding, hand coordination

Related URLs:

Departments, Centres and Research Units:



1 November 2023Submitted
3 November 2023Published Online

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

13 Nov 2023 11:51

Last Modified:

13 Nov 2023 11:51



View statistics for this item...

Edit Record Edit Record (login required)