Thermal cameras capture temperature rise during social interactions

Using thermal imaging cameras, researchers at the University of St Andrews (St Andrews, UK) have found that when women interact socially with men, it causes a noticeable rise in the temperature of their faces.

Thermal cameras capture temperature rise during social interactions
Thermal cameras capture temperature rise during social interactions

Using thermal imaging cameras, researchers at the University of St Andrews (St Andrews, UK) have found that when women interact socially with men, it causes a noticeable rise in the temperature of their faces.

The research was conducted by Amanda Hahn, Carmen Lefevre and David Perrett from the university's Perception Lab. The team used the infrared cameras to monitor temperature changes in women during interactions with a man or another woman.

"We used a thermal camera to record skin temperature during a standard 'social interaction' where we measured participants' skin temperature at 'non-personal' (the arm and palm of the hand) and 'personal' (the face and chest) locations on the body. The thermal response was dramatic when the male experimenter made skin contact at 'personal' locations," says researcher Amanda Hahn.

While it may not be surprising that people have a physiological response to social contact, the size of the reaction was surprising. "We observed some women whose facial temperature increased by an entire degree Celsius during interaction with the male experimenter," says Hahn.

The study shows that gender alone influenced the reaction of women, who showed no response to interaction with other women.

"Thermal imaging is a relatively new technique employed to monitor emotion and stress. It can be very useful in areas of national security, where changes in skin temperature can be gauged as part of lie detection tests," says Professor David Perrett, who runs the university's Perception Lab.

More information on the research can be found here.

-- by Dave Wilson, Senior Editor, Vision Systems Design

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