Behavioral adaptability

Our research shows that for a social interaction to be successful there is not a “one size fits all” interpersonal style a person has to apply. Rather, a person’s interaction style should be flexible and tailored toward the social interaction partner. Behavioral adaptability is the extent to which an individual changes his or her interpersonal interaction style as a function of what the social interaction partner wants or needs. We show that being more interpersonally adaptable can be an advantage for doctors when they interact with their patients and we currently test to what extent it is also beneficial for leaders when interacting with their subordinates.



Nonverbal behavior and leadership

Leadership is typically thought of as verbal communication aiming at persuading, deciding, and motivating and much less of how nonverbal behavior is used by leaders and how people perceive it. Our research shows how leader nonverbal behavior affects the way leaders are perceived and judged and which nonverbal cues observers use to infer leadership, status, or dominance.

Ongoing collaboration with Prof. Dr. Judith Hall, Northeastern University, Boston, USA.




How the physical environment influences our interpersonal behavior

The physical environment can shape how we behave interpersonally. We show that a picture of a successful female role model on the wall of the conference room a woman gives a public speech in can empower this woman to be more persuasive. Moreover, leaders in a posh office show a different leadership style towards their subordinates than leaders in a low status office.

Ongoing collaboration with Dr. Caroline Pulfrey, HEC, University of Lausanne.



Nonverbal behavior in the job interview

Not only the content of the answers a job applicant provides during a job interview determines whether he or she will get the job, the applicant’s nonverbal behavior does too. We show that specific nonverbal behaviors during a job interview relate to better chances of getting hired and we also show that later job performance can be linked to how a person behaved nonverbally during the job interview.

Ongoing collaboration with Prof. Dr. Daniel Gatica-Perez, IDIAP, Martigny.


Power and interpersonal behavior

How does the fact of obtaining power affect how a person behaves interpersonally? We show that feeling powerful can empower a person when presenting him- or herself in front of an evaluation panel; he or she feels less stressed and fidgets less and thus conveys a better impression. Also, feeling empowered by a role model helps women when faced with a leadership task to perform better. We investigate also how the way power is understood affects ethical interpersonal interaction behavior.

Ongoing collaboration with Prof. Dr. Ioana Latu, Queen’s University , Ireland.

Ongoing collaboration with Prof. Dr. Claudia Toma, Université Libre de Bruxelles, Belgium.


First impressions and interpersonal accuracy

We readily form first impressions about our social interaction partners. Although they can be biased by stereotypes and thus be wrong, oftentimes these first impressions and judgements are accurate. We show that people in general are able to accurately tell who is the boss in a social gathering and that recruiters are able to accurately judge the personality profile of job applicants simply based on short (2 min) video clips.

Ongoing collaboration with Prof. Dr. Nora Murphy, Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles, USA.

Ongoing collaboration with Prof. Dr. Judith Hall, Northeastern University, Boston, USA.



Physician-patient interaction

The way physicians interact with their patients affects not only how satisfied patients are with the consultation, it also affects their health. We show how gender of the physician and physician interaction style including nonverbal behavior affect consultation outcomes. We also test how different types of communication training for medical students affect their communication skills.

Ongoing collaboration with Prof. Dr. Alexandre Berney and Prof. Dr. Friedrich Stiefel, CHUV, Lausanne

Responsible interpersonal behavior

Not only are we affected by stereotypes that bias how we interact with others, we are also affected by opportunities to either look out for ourselves or to do the right thing and act responsibly and ethically. We investigate conditions under which employees resist unethical requests from their supervisors and traders make responsible investment decisions.

Ongoing collaboration with Prof. Dr. Karl Frauendorfer, University of St.Gallen and Prof. Dr. Robert Gutsche, University of St. Gallen