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Behavioral Adaptability

English title Behavioral Adaptability
Applicant Schmid Mast Marianne
Number 184858
Funding scheme Project funding
Research institution Département de comportement organisationnel Faculté des HEC Université de Lausanne
Institution of higher education University of Lausanne - LA
Main discipline Psychology
Start/End 01.09.2020 - 31.08.2024
Approved amount 591'754.00
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Keywords (4)

communication; nonverbal behavior; interpersonal behavior; social perception

Lay Summary (French)

Lead
Être un caméléon : Lorsque l'adaptation de son comportement à un interlocuteur est bénéfique
Lay summary
Lorsque nous interagissons avec d'autres personnes, nous modifions souvent notre comportement afin d'accommoder nos interlocuteurs. Nous parlons plus lentement à un petit enfant qu'à un adulte. Nous encourageons un ami qui se trouve dans une situation difficile en le rassurant et un autre en lui donnant des conseils sur la manière d'aborder le problème. Nous transmettons les mêmes mauvaises nouvelles de manière différente selon les personnes à qui nous parlons. Des recherches préliminaires montrent que l'adaptation du comportement d'une personne en fonction de ce que l'interlocuteur attend ou de ce que la situation demande, est liée à de meilleurs résultats d'interaction. Nous appelons adaptabilité comportementale (BA) la capacité à changer son comportement d'interaction sociale en fonction de l'interlocuteur et de la situation sociale. À ce jour, nous avons des connaissances limitées sur la façon dont l'adaptabilité comportementale affecte les résultats des interactions sociales et sur la façon dont les personnes qui font preuve d'adaptabilité comportementale sont perçues. Notre recherche nous permet de mieux comprendre comment les gens interagissent dans des situations sociales et quels sont les facteurs qui contribuent à de meilleurs résultats d'interaction, ce qui est pertinent pour l'éducation, la formation et les interactions sociales quotidiennes.
Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 01.05.2020

Lay Summary (English)

Lead
Being a chameleon: When adapting one's behavior to the social interaction partner is beneficial
Lay summary
When interacting with others, we often change our behavior to accomodate our social interaction partners. We talk more slowly to a young child than to an adult. We encourage one friend in a difficult situation by reassuring him and another by providing guidance on how to tackle the problem. We convey the same bad news differently depending on whom we talk to. There is preliminary research showing that adapting one’s behavior according to what the social interaction partner calls for or what a social situation affords, is related to better interaction outcomes. We call behavioral adaptability (BA) the capacity to change one's social interaction behavior according to the social interaction partner and the social situation. To date we have limited knowledge about how BA affect interaction outcomes and how people who show BA are perceived. This research advances our understanding of how people interact in social situations and which factors contribute to better interaction outcomes which is relevant for education, training, and daily social interactions.
Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 01.05.2020

Responsible applicant and co-applicants

Employees

Associated projects

Number Title Start Funding scheme
197479 Storytelling and first impressions in face-to-face and algorithm-powered digital interviews 01.02.2021 Project funding
159292 Interpersonal Accuracy of Leaders: Effects on Interpersonal Behavior and Interaction Outcomes 01.03.2016 Project funding

Abstract

When interacting with others, we often change our behavior according suit our interaction partners. We talk more slowly to a young child than to an adult. We encourage one friend in a difficult situation by reassuring him and another by providing guidance on how to tackle the problem. We convey the same bad news differently depending on whom we talk to. In short, we adapt our behavior to our interaction partners. This is what is called behavioral adaptability (BA). There is preliminary research (Carrard, Schmid Mast, Jaunin-Stalder, Junod Perron, & Sommer, 2017) showing that adapting one’s behavior according to what the social interaction partner calls for or what a social situation affords, is related to better interaction outcomes. In order to be behaviorally adaptive, a person has to know how the different interaction partners “function” and existing research has shown that being able to correctly assess others is related to show more BA, at least in women (Carrard et al., 2017; Palese, Schmid Mast, & Bachmann, 2018). However, knowledge of others is not sufficient to show BA, a person also needs to be motivated to show BA. The motivational aspect of BA has not yet been studied. In the here proposed research, the goal is to better understand how motivational factors affect BA. More specifically, we will test how the type of social relationship (e.g., be dependent on the social interaction partner or not) and interaction goals (e.g., making a good first impression, obtaining interaction partner satisfaction, or increasing interaction partner performance) affect BA. Intuitively, one thinks that BA leads to better interaction outcomes. We will test how type of social relationship and interaction goals affect BA and interaction outcomes and whether BA is responsible for the variance in interaction outcomes.In a series of 5 experimental studies, we address the gaps in the existing research on BA and we systematically test the effects of type of social relationship and interaction goals on BA. In all studies, we assess BA by videotaping how a person behaves toward several different interaction partners (minimum 2 different people). We then code to what extent the behavior of the person was adaptive given what each of the interaction partners required. For instance, if one interaction partner performs best under a participative leadership style and another interaction partner best under a directive leadership style, the extent to which a person shows those behaviors specifically to these interaction partners (instead of showing only participative behavior towards both, for instance), is BA. In the 5 studies we assess how BA affects different types of outcomes such as interaction partner satisfaction and interaction partner performance. We also investigate whether differences in interaction outcomes can be explained by BA. Moreover, we test whether BA occurs more on the verbal or nonverbal level and which of these two aspects is more strongly related to better interaction outcomes. And, we examine how people who show BA are perceived and evaluated by others. This research not only advances our understanding of how people interact in social situations and which factors contribute to better interaction outcomes which is relevant for education, training, and daily social interactions; it also advances the research field of person perception in social psychology in that it adds the behavioral component to the perception. Knowing how we perceive others and whether those perceptions are accurate is important and well-studied, but researchers need to go a step further and look at what behavior people show when perceiving others and how this behavior affects how the interaction unfolds and the result of the interaction (interaction outcome).
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