How does conversational context shape interpersonal dynamics?

Alexandra Paxton

When we interact, we influence one another in subtle ways. Our individual behavioral signatures — the way we move, speak, and feel — start to become interconnected. We even recognize this colloquially:  People talk about how infectious smiles can be or how a yawn can spread through a room.

We most often notice this interconnectedness when we’re engaged in friendly conversation, but how does changing that conversational context affect interaction dynamics? How does conflict, especially, restructure our interaction patterns, and how can we better capture and model these dynamics?  As a cognitive scientist, I explore these and similar questions from a computational social science perspective.


In August 2018, I will be joining the University of Connecticut’s Department of Psychological Sciences as an Assistant Professor of Ecological Psychology within the Perception, Action, Cognition division.

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Here’s some of my recent and ongoing work: