Understanding our need for emotional connection


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According to a recent article in the NYTimes, our ability to make an emotional connection when we communicate is a way to establish social exchange.
...people subconsciously mirror each other’s surprise, disgust or delight — and, in effect, interpret the emotion by sensing what’s embodied on their own face. Interfere with the ability to mimic, these studies suggest, and people are less adept at reading others’ expressions (and) in a series of studies, psychologists have found that social bonding between conversation partners is highly dependent on a rhythmic and usually subconscious give and take of gestures and expressions that creates a kind of shared good will. “Part of that could be the buying in on the interaction itself,” Dr. Chartrand said.
But the latest research on the little understood subject of communication show that this important nonverbal communication technique is more complex than we previously believed. Some psychologists say the evidence from people with facial paralysis suggest that there may be several mental processes that contribute to our ability to tune in to the emotional state of mind of someone else.
“The idea is that if we could learn what the best nonverbal communication techniques are, we could teach those to people who are socially awkward for any reason.”
It seems that the simple principle of monkey see, monkey do could be the latest breakthrough to shed some light on the often mysterious way that our minds work, and how that translate to our ability to effectively communicate with the people around us.

Originally posted on the 5th of  Footnote 17/11/11: In light of my own social awkwardness I beg to differ, or maybe that's just me. The only way that I manage to cope with my own terror towards social interaction is through emotional detachment, constant effort, brutal honesty and charm. While mimicking social good-will may improve conversational skills, I doubt it's enough to change the ugly duckling into a swan...

But that's just me I guess...
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