Smiles can be back channels

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Investigated the placement of auditor smile beginnings in the stream of dyadic interaction, using detailed transcriptions of the language, paralanguage, and body motion of the participants in 4 2-person conversations recorded on videotape. Auditor smile beginnings showed a strong tendency to occur at the same kinds of location as “back channel” responses (such as “yeah,” “uh-huh,” and head nods). This finding indicates that the smiles can function as a type of back channel. It is argued that smiles, like other forms of back channel, make communication more efficient by providing the speaker with feedback on a number of levels simultaneously. (21 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved)

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