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For the first three minutes, the participants were given no instructions.
Then another participant (actually a stooge working for Clegg) arrived with a chair and sat down with them.
Once this was done, the participants left the room and moved to another where they watched back the footage of themselves.
They used a slider box, like the kind used in audience research, to indicate how awkward they were feeling during the social interactions on a moment by moment basis.
It’s notable that a lot of the humour was actually about social awkwardness – joking about it seemed to make it go away.
In contrast, psychology before now has largely neglected to study this fundamental part of social life.
In a new exploratory study, Johsua Clegg proposes a model.
Clegg invited 30 undergrad participants (13 men) into a carefully prepared room in groups of three.
Each trio sat facing each other on chairs arranged in a triangle.
by pulling a face); when names were forgotten or people weren’t recognised; and when social processes were made explicit, such as during the ice-breaker task.