Being likable is very significant among social circles, and nodding has been proven to increase likability and approachability in Japan.
A study conducted by Hokkaido University published by Perception discovered that nodding can positively affect the likability of a person up to 30 percent and even increase approachability by 40 percent.
This is relevant study especially among adults since likability is an important factor that should be present among peers in the workplace.
In most countries, nodding is perceived as a communicative signal that means "yes" or gives approval, while head shaking is understood as a negative response or denial. Based on this body language, Associate Professor Jun-ichiro Kawahara of Hokkaido University and Associate Professor Takayuki Osugi from Yamagata University proved that nodding can enhance perceived attractiveness with the use of computer simulated three-dimensional figures.
Forty-nine Japanese men and women participated in their study, no younger than 18 years old. These participants rated the figures' likability, approachability, and attractiveness on a scale of 0-100 after watching shot snippets of them nodding, shaking their head, or remaining still.
The results revealed that simulated figures ranked 30 percent higher in likability and 40 percent higher in approachability compared to those who were seen shaking their heads or remaining still. The study determined that both female and male observers delivered the same responses.
Nodding also influenced the perception of one's personality traits, Professor Kawahara confirmed.
"Our study also demonstrated that nodding primarily increased likability attributable to personality traits, rather than to physical appearance," the professor explained.
However, the study also revealed that head shaking did not affect perceptions of likability and approachability.
Kawahara also expressed that the results of the study should not be used in generalizations because of the fact that computer simulations were only used. The study could yield different results if real faces and varied cultural backgrounds are used. But these results could be significantly applied in developing web avatars and humanoid robots, to make them more approachable and friendlier among people.