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Through a Glass Darkly: Effects of Smiling and Visibility on Recognition and Avoidance in Passing Encounters

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This study examined the patterns of recognition and avoidance in pedestrians as they walked past a confederate. The first purpose of the study was to replicate the results of an earlier experiment (Patterson, Webb, & Schwartz, 200224. Patterson , M. L. , Webb , A. and Schwartz , W. 2002 . Passing encounters: Patterns of recognition and avoidance in pedestrians . Basic and Applied Social Psychology , 24 : 57 – 66 . [Taylor & Francis Online], [Web of Science ®], [CSA]View all references) showing that the addition of a smile from the confederate greatly increased pedestrians’ responsiveness. A second purpose was to determine if confederates’ visibility (wearing sunglasses or not) in these passing encounters would affect pedestrians’ reactions and provide insight regarding the functions involved in these events. Specifically, the effects of condition (avoid, look‐only, and look and smile), sex of confederate, and sunglasses on passing pedestrians were examined in a field study on 183 participants. A log‐linear analysis of the results provided support for the first hypothesis with more glances, smiles, and nods in the look and smile condition than in the avoid and look‐only conditions. The hypotheses that confederates who wore sunglasses would receive fewer glances than those who did not and that this effect would be greater for the male confederate were not supported. There was, however, a significant Sunglasses × Sex of Confederate effect on smiles, with pedestrians smiling more at the male confederate when he wore sunglasses than when he did not and smiling less at the female confederate when she wore sunglasses than when she did not. The contrasting effect of sunglasses for the male and female confederate was discussed in terms of the different functions of a smile in pedestrian encounters.
... In particular, we measured participants' proxemic behaviors including translation (i.e., movement paths) and head orientation while moving among virtual others in the IVE. Reactions such as looking toward rather than away from the person in need (suggesting approach vs. avoidance; e.g., Goffman, 1963;Patterson & Tubbs, 2005), actually approaching the person, and spending more time near the person were used as potential behavioral indicators of willingness to interact with and help the needy person. The specific dependent variables in Study 2 were participants' location relative to the target person and head orientation (looking at or away from the person). ...
... Similarly, Strayer and Roberts (1997) found that children were willing to get physically closer to people with whom they empathized. Based on such studies (as well as Goffman, 1963, andPatterson &Tubbs, 2005), we hypothesized that the higher a person's score on the dispositional compassion measures, (a) the more he or she would look at the virtual needy person and (b) the closer to the needy person he or she would approach and stay. ...
... Similarly, Strayer and Roberts (1997) found that children were willing to get physically closer to people with whom they empathized. Based on such studies (as well as Goffman, 1963, andPatterson &Tubbs, 2005), we hypothesized that the higher a person's score on the dispositional compassion measures, (a) the more he or she would look at the virtual needy person and (b) the closer to the needy person he or she would approach and stay. ...
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As virtual environments (VEs) become increasingly central to people's lives (Terry, 2002), understanding reactions to VEs may be as important as understanding behavior in the real world (Yee, Bailenson, Urbanek, Chang, & Merget, 2007). Immersive Virtual Environment Technology (IVET), which is now being used in psychological research (Blascovich et al., 2002), can provide greater experimental control, more precise measurement, ease of replication across participants, and high ecological validity, making it attractive for researchers. It also can create links between researchers who study basic social psychological processes and those who study new media. In two studies we examined people's reactions as they navigated through a virtual world and interacted with virtual people, some of whom needed help. Participants' compassion and tendency to experience personal distress predicted emotional reactions (concern) and proxemic behavior (gaze orientation and degree of interpersonal distance) to a virtual person in need but not to a control person. The results support the use of IVET and proxemic variables to measure compassion unobtrusively and they encourage the use of IVET to advance our understanding of people's behavior in and reactions to virtual worlds and new media.
... To pursue this issue further, we examined these micro-interactions between pedestrians in a series of studies. In samples from an urban area in the Midwest, we found that, as confederates initiated greater involvement toward an approaching pedestrian [i.e., from avoid, to look, to look and smile (LS)], glances, smiles, nods, and greetings toward the confederates increased (Patterson and Tubbs 2005;Patterson et al. 2002). ...
... It seems clear that the absent engagement of mobile device use adversely affects involvement with in-person conversational partners (Bugeja 2005;Glaser 2007;Hills et al. 2009), but do these distracting effects extend to the brief passing encounters of pedestrians? First, we hypothesized that the earlier condition main effect (Patterson et al. 2002(Patterson et al. , 2007Patterson and Tubbs 2005) will be replicated. That is, increased confederate involvement will precipitate more glances, smiles, nods, and greetings from participants. ...
... In earlier studies, inter-rater reliabilities, based on Kappa (Cohen 1960) and computed on the judgments of the confederates and observers, ranged from approximately .60-.95 (Patterson et al. 2002(Patterson et al. , 2007Patterson and Tubbs 2005). In general, the Kappas were lower in the present study: glances = .56, ...
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Mobile communication technology plays an increasingly pervasive role in everyday life. This study examined one aspect of this role, specifically, the effects of mobile device use on the micro-interactions of pedestrians as they approached and passed a confederate. Over 400 participants were observed in a 2 (group: mobile device vs. control) × 3 [condition: look-only (L); look and smile (LS); look, smile, and greeting (LSG)] factorial design study measuring participants’ looks, smiles, nods, and greetings toward the confederates. Log-linear analyses of the dependent measures provided qualified support for the predicted decreased responsiveness from mobile device users. Specifically, a group by condition interaction on smiles showed that significantly fewer mobile device users than controls smiled at the confederates in the LSG condition. In addition, a group by sex of participant interaction on greetings indicated that significantly fewer female mobile device users offered greetings than males and females in the other conditions. The processes potentially mediating these effects are discussed and the broader influence of mobile devices on the micro-interactions of pedestrians is considered.
... Furthermore , none of these effects was repeated across the different dependent measures. In our earlier studies, effects found on one dependent measure (e.g., glances) were usually seen on other dependent measures (e.g., smiles or nods) and were easily interpretable (Patterson et al. 2002; Patterson & Tubbs, 2005 ). This was not the case here and, consequently , we decided to collapse the data from the two St. Louis locations. ...
... Finally, it is worth mentioning that the passing encounters paradigm employed in the present study may be an especially useful means of studying subtle interpersonal processes in a way that is both unobtrusive and nonreactive (Webb, Campbell, Schwartz, & Sechrest, 1966). In this study and two earlier ones (Patterson & Tubbs, 2005; Patterson, et al., 2002), we have found that in the 1–2 seconds of moving through the 10–12 foot passing zone, pedestrians respond selectively to the confederates' behavior. Although some people may be consciously aware of what they are doing under these circumstances, much of what happens in these subtle and fleeting exchanges probably reflects automatic social behavior (Bargh, 1997). ...
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This study examined the microinteractions of pedestrians in Japan and in the United States as they walked past a confederate. Specifically, the effects of culture, condition (avoid, look-only, and look plus smile) and sex of confederate on glances, smiles, nods, and greetings by passing pedestrians were examined in a field study on over 1000 participants. The hypotheses of (1) lower responsiveness in Japanese pedestrians than in American pedestrians and (2) increased responsiveness as a function of condition were supported in a series of log-linear analyses of pedestrian glances, smiles, nods, and greetings. Both of these main effects were, however, qualified by Culture X Condition interactions on smiles, nods, and greetings, with the large condition effects present in the American pedestrians, but absent in the Japanese pedestrians. The results are discussed in terms of the functions of glances, smiles, nods, and greetings in these brief encounters and how differing cultural norms affect Japanese and American responsiveness. Finally, the limitations of this study and the broader utility of this research paradigm are discussed.
... Simulated lab based social interactions can be conducted using role playing and a live confederate (Sayers, Bellack, Wade, Bennett, & Fong, 1995) or with an interactive previously recorded confederate (Gangestad, Simpson, Cousins, Gurver-Apgar, & Christensen, 2004;Simpson, Gangestad, Christensen, & Leck, 1999). Interaction with a confederate live or videotaped may be confounded by a multitude of variables such as the confederates' gender (Carli, LaFleur, & Loeber, 1995;Patterson, & Tubbs, 2005). ...
... Smiles often signal that individuals are happy or that they like the specific individual to whom they address the smile (Ekman, 1992(Ekman, , 1994. Consequently, smiling individuals are perceived as being happier (Otta, Abrosio, & Hoshino, 1996;Otta, Lira, Delevati, Cesar, & Pires, 1994), receive higher ratings of attractiveness, kindness, honesty, and competence (Hess, Beaupré, & Cheung, 2002;Reis et al., 1990), are liked more (Young & Beier, 1977;Palmer & Simmons, 1995), and are responded to with more cooperative behaviors, increased responsiveness, and affiliative signals (Gonzaga, Keltner, Londahl, & Smith, 2001;Patterson & Tubbs, 2005;Scharlemann, Eckel, Kacelnik, & Wilson, 2001) than people who do not smile. ...
... Overview of results. We have completed three studies examining the effects of confederate attention (avoid, look, and look plus smile) toward a passing stranger in both the St. Louis area (a college campus and in downtown) and on a college campus in Matsue City, Japan (Patterson et al., 2007; Patterson & Tubbs, 2005; Patterson et al., 2002). Across the three studies, we initiated more than 1800 trials and observed pedestrians' reactions to the confederates. ...
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Chapter
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This study examined the patterns of avoidance and recognition in pedestrians as they passed a confederate. Specifically, the effects of condition (avoid, look, and look plus smile) and sex of confederate on passing pedestrians were examined in a field study on over 600 participants. A log-linear analysis of the results showed support for the hypotheses of greater glancing toward the female confederates and greater glancing when the confederates looked and smiled. A Sex of Confederate x Condition interaction qualified these main effects, however, with the female confederates receiving a much higher proportion of glances than men in the look-only condition. Analyses of additional pedestrian responses among those who did glance at the confederates indicated that the look and smile condition produced higher levels of smiling, nodding, and greetings than did the other two conditions. The apparent processes underlying these subtle, brief exchanges are discussed, and the ecology of passing encounters is considered.
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nonhuman primates human infants children adults (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)