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New PDF release: A Guide To Improving Your Spoken English

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Researchers, like everyone else, differ in their ability to adopt a phenomenological attitude, to do so clearly, fully, and accurately, and then reliably report their self-analysis and that of others. When physiognomic perception is described in phenomenological terms as “optimal, good, fitting, elegant, and simple” (Chapter 8), the words seem more poetic than scientific, more metaphorical than mathematical. Phenomenological accounts in general and of physiognomy in particular are often accused of lacking rigor, precision, and clarity; difficult to specify, quantify, and test; and vague in specifying exactly what is at work and how it operates (whatever it is).

The two studies together suggest the primary role of perception in physiognomy since the ratings were made spontaneously, relatively quickly, and in full view of stimuli that were highly unfamiliar. The responses therefore minimized if not ruled out the role of learning, the triggering of relevant associations, mediation from memories, or elaborations derived from guessing or thinking. The perceptual locus of physiognomy and the relevance of past experience are thorny issues taken up later (Part III).

Illustrative is the following investigation. Five and six-year olds were shown stick figures portraying a set of emotions whose meanings were predetermined (Lindauer & Greenauer, 1981). The children were instructed to match the stick figures to one of two meaningless lines or random patterns taken from a test of physiognomy that represents a range of emotions (Stein, 1975). “Which of the two stick figures [a happy and sad one, for instance] do you think drew this picture? The children were shown, in this example, a pair of lines or patterns known from previous research to represent happiness and sadness.

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A Guide To Improving Your Spoken English by BBC World Service


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