JOURNAL ARTICLE

Physiological responses to proposals during dyadic decision-making conversations

Melisa Stevanovic, Samuel Tuhkanen, Milla Järvensivu, Emmi Koskinen, Enikö Savander, Kaisa Valkia
PloS One 2021, 16 (1): e0244929
33481838
A novel conversation-analytically informed paradigm was used to examine how joint decision-making interaction, with its various types of proposal sequences, is reflected in the physiological responses of participants. Two types of dyads-dyads with one depressed and one non-depressed participant (N = 15) and dyads with two non-depressed participants (N = 15)-engaged in a series of conversational joint decision-making tasks, during which we measured their skin conductance (SC) responses. We found that the participants' SC response rates were higher and more synchronized during proposal sequences than elsewhere in the conversation. Furthermore, SC response rates were higher when the participant was in the role of a proposal speaker (vs. a proposal recipient), and making a proposal was associated with higher SC response rates for participants with depression (vs. participants without depression). Moreover, the SC response rates in the proposal speaker were higher when the recipient accepted (vs. not accepted) the proposal. We interpret this finding with reference to accepting responses suggesting a commitment to future action, for which the proposal speaker may feel specifically responsible for. A better understanding of the physiological underpinnings of joint decision-making interaction may help improve democratic practices in contexts where certain individuals experience challenges in this regard.

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