, Volume 29, Issue 4, pp 235-246

Using Thin Slices for Behavioral Coding

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Abstract

This study investigated whether brief segments of nonverbal behavior or “thin slices” would be representative of behavior across a longer interaction. It was hypothesized that behavioral slices would correlate with behavior across a full 15-minute interaction. Five commonly investigated nonverbal behaviors were coded: gazing, gestures, nods, smiles, and self-touch. The findings showed moderate to high positive correlations between the thin slices (1-minute slice, total of two 1-minute slices, total of three 1-minute slices) and the full interaction for all five behaviors. In regards to behavioral coding, the thin-slice methodology proposed could save nonverbal researchers considerable time, energy, and money by decreasing resources dedicated to coding behavior in some types of interactions. Such results suggest that thin slices could represent an individual’s behavior across a longer length of time.

Nora A. Murphy is now at the Department of Psychology, Brandeis University, Waltham, MA.
The data was collected at Northeastern University and the research was supported by National Science Foundation grant SBR 97 09032 awarded to Judith A. Hall.