Pointing to visible and invisible targets

Flack, Zoe M, Naylor, Martha and Leavens, David A (2017) Pointing to visible and invisible targets. Journal of Nonverbal Behavior. ISSN 0191-5886 (Accepted)

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We investigated how the visibility of targets influenced the type of point used to provide
directions. In Study 1 we asked 605 passersby in three localities for directions to well-known
local landmarks. When that landmark was in plain view behind the requester, most respondents
pointed with their index fingers, and few respondents pointed more than once. In contrast, when
the landmark was not in view, respondents pointed initially with their index fingers, but often
elaborated with a whole-hand point. In Study 2, we covertly filmed the responses from 157
passersby we approached for directions, capturing both verbal and gestural responses. As in
Study 1, few respondents produced more than one gesture when the target was in plain view and
initial points were most likely to be index finger points. Thus, in a Western geographical context
in which pointing with the index finger is the dominant form of pointing, a slight change in
circumstances elicited a preference for pointing with the whole hand when it was the second or
third manual gesture in a sequence.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: pointing, deictic gestures, nonverbal communication, paralinguistic gestures
Schools and Departments: School of Psychology > Psychology
Depositing User: Ellena Adams
Date Deposited: 17 Aug 2017 12:43
Last Modified: 17 Aug 2017 12:51
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/69862

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