Social Signals: A Psychological Perspective

  • Isabella Poggi
  • Francesca D’Errico


This chapter defines social signals as communicative or informative signals that directly or indirectly provide meanings concerning social interactions, social attitudes, social relationships and social emotions, and presents classical literature and recent research on social signals in the domains of cognitive and social psychology. In terms of the modalities exploited, it overviews some cases of gestures, head movements, and gaze items as social signals. In terms of the meanings conveyed, special focus is devoted to persuasion and agreement, the former seen as a way to influence others’ attitudes, the latter as a possible outcome of a persuasive process: the persuasive import of gesture and gaze, and the function of words and body signals in agreement are highlighted. In the realm of social relationships, the relation of dominance and the blatant and subtle signals that convey it in political debates are illustrated; finally the nature and function of the social emotions of shame, pride and enthusiasm are described, and some studies are presented on their multimodal communication.


Facial Expression Communicative Signal Social Signal Social Dominance Orientation Social Emotion 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



This research is supported by the Seventh Framework Program, European Network of Excellence SSPNet (Social Signal Processing Network), Grant Agreement No. 231287.


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© Springer-Verlag London Limited 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Roma Tre UniversityRomeItaly

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