Unraveling dyadic psycho-physiology of social presence between strangers during an audio drama – a signal-analysis approach

Janne Kauttonen*, Sander Paekivi, Jaakko Kauramäki, Pia Tikka

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

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A mere co-presence of an unfamiliar person may modulate an individual’s attentive engagement with specific events or situations to a significant degree. To understand better how such social presence affects experiences, we recorded a set of parallel multimodal facial and psychophysiological data with subjects (N = 36) who listened to dramatic audio scenes alone or when facing an unfamiliar person. Both a selection of 6 s affective sound clips (IADS-2) followed by a 27 min soundtrack extracted from a Finnish episode film depicted familiar and often intense social situations familiar from the everyday world. Considering the systemic complexity of both the chosen naturalistic stimuli and expected variations in the experimental social situation, we applied a novel combination of signal analysis methods using inter-subject correlation (ISC) analysis, Representational Similarity Analysis (RSA) and Recurrence Quantification Analysis (RQA) followed by gradient boosting classification. We report our findings concerning three facial signals, gaze, eyebrow and smile that can be linked to socially motivated facial movements. We found that ISC values of pairs, whether calculated on true pairs or any two individuals who had a partner, were lower than the group with single individuals. Thus, audio stimuli induced more unique responses in those subjects who were listening to it in the presence of another person, while individual listeners tended to yield a more uniform response as it was driven by dramatized audio stimulus alone. Furthermore, our classifiers models trained using recurrence properties of gaze, eyebrows and smile signals demonstrated distinctive differences in the recurrence dynamics of signals from paired subjects and revealed the impact of individual differences on the latter. We showed that the presence of an unfamiliar co-listener that modifies social dynamics of dyadic listening tasks can be detected reliably from visible facial modalities. By applying our analysis framework to a broader range of psycho-physiological data, together with annotations of the content, and subjective reports of participants, we expected more detailed dyadic dependencies to be revealed. Our work contributes towards modeling and predicting human social behaviors to specific types of audio-visually mediated, virtual, and live social situations.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1153968
Pages (from-to)1-22
Number of pages22
JournalFrontiers in Psychology
Publication statusPublished - 19 Oct 2023
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • audio narratives
  • machine learning
  • multimodal data
  • non-verbal dyadic interaction
  • recurrence quantification analysis
  • signal analysis
  • time series analysis


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