Nonverbal expression of psychological states in psychiatric patients

  • Heiner Ellgring


Nonverbal behavior, especially facial expression, appears as one of the most important means for communicating affective states. Studies on groups of psychiatric patients and control subjects are reported in which nonverbal behavior is analyzed from videotaped dialogues. Using a quantitative approach, results on facial behavior, speech, and gaze are described, which shed light on the expressive and communicative functions of nonverbal behavior. From longitudinal observations on depressed patients it emerged that individual-specific associations have to be taken into account for the relationship between expressive behavior and mood changes.

The predominance of facial behavior in the speaker role of an individual found in patients and control groups points to the integrated communicative function of the verbal and nonverbal elements. However, recovered schizophrenic patients exhibited a dissociation of these elements. Implications for our understanding of nonverbal communications are discussed.

Key words

Nonverbal communications Facial expression Gaze behavior Expression of mood states Schizophrenia Depression Psychopathology 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1986

Authors and Affiliations

  • Heiner Ellgring
    • 1
  1. 1.Max-Planck-Institut für PsychiatricMünchen 40Germany

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