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Cognitive Processing

, Volume 13, Supplement 2, pp 397–414 | Cite as

A psycho-ethological approach to social signal processing

  • Marc Mehu
  • Klaus R. Scherer
Review

Abstract

The emerging field of social signal processing can benefit from a theoretical framework to guide future research activities. The present article aims at drawing attention to two areas of research that devoted considerable efforts to the understanding of social behaviour: ethology and social psychology. With a long tradition in the study of animal signals, ethology and evolutionary biology have developed theoretical concepts to account for the functional significance of signalling. For example, the consideration of divergent selective pressures responsible for the evolution of signalling and social cognition emphasized the importance of two classes of indicators: informative cues and communicative signals. Social psychology, on the other hand, investigates emotional expression and interpersonal relationships, with a focus on the mechanisms underlying the production and interpretation of social signals and cues. Based on the theoretical considerations developed in these two fields, we propose a model that integrates the processing of perceivable individual features (social signals and cues) with contextual information, and we suggest that output of computer-based processing systems should be derived in terms of functional significance rather than in terms of absolute conceptual meaning.

Keywords

Social signals Social cues Social cognition Reliability Social signal processing 

Notes

Acknowledgments

This work was funded by the European Commission Seventh Framework Programme Theme 3, Information and Communication Technologies, European Network of Excellence Social Signal Processing Network (SSPNet), grant number 231287.

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Copyright information

© Marta Olivetti Belardinelli and Springer-Verlag 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Swiss Centre for Affective SciencesUniversity of GenevaGenevaSwitzerland

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