The training and generalization of nonverbal decoding ability



Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title



Decoding others' behavior is a critical aspect of social adjustment. Gardner (1983) showed that feedback improved decoding of Ekman-Friesen (EF) faces. The present work involved two experiments to: (a) replicate findings with EF stimuli; (b) extend training to another nonverbal stimulus set, the Sarbin-Hardyck Stick Figures (SB) bodily-postural stimuli; and (c) determine if training on one set generalized to the other. In the first experiment (N=177), SB served as a pretest/posttest measure and EF provided the baseline/training material. In the second (N = 174), the stimuli were reversed. Gardner's training effect on EF modal selections was significantly replicated. The effect on SB stimuli approached significance (p<.10) in the expected direction. Training on EF improved SB performance in the expected direction (p<.10); training on SB produced an insignificant improvement on subsequent EF stimuli. Results were discussed in terms of future research and clinical applications. There is an empirical basis for training nonverbal decoding skills in the clinic.



Body language