An enormous amount of psychology is chronically embedded within the behavioral stream of our day-to-day lives. We can learn as much about a person and about their relationship with others from a careful analysis of a 30-second thin slice of their nonverbal behavior extracted from a face-to-face interaction than we can learn from a panel of “experts” ruminating over months of psychological tests and personal interviews (Ambady, Bernieri, & Richeson, 2000).
Interpersonal sensitivity is the ability to sense, perceive accurately, and respond appropriately to one’s personal, interpersonal, and social environment (Bernieri, 2001). It’s people smarts.
Those very low in interpersonal sensitivity would likely fall somewhere in the Autism Spectrum of conditions. Those high in interpersonal sensitivity are emotionally intelligent and psychologically healthy. The construct of interpersonal sensitivity spans many domains and includes things such as professional effectiveness, rapport, meetings and greetings behavior, interpersonal coordination, empathy, but it is mostly associated with interpersonal perception accuracy.
Here in the Interpersonal Sensitivity Lab, we observe human interactions within different contexts and study the relationships between internal states, interpersonal behavior, and observer judgments. We are revealing how, and to what extent, a person’s expressive behavior reveals their emotional state, attitudes, and interpersonal motivations. We are also identifying the important physical features and cues by which people judge another’s personality, intelligence, social skill, and interpersonal interest. Finally, we are attempting to uncover the critical components of interpersonal skill and emotional intelligence and develop valid tests to assess them.