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Cognitive Psychology for Care

Research Topic
Cognitive Psychology for Care

Lead Researcher
Masato Nunoi, Associate Professor, Department of Human Relations / Department of Psychology, Sugiyama Jogakuen University

Center Co-Researcher
Yoshiyuki Ueda, Senior Lecturer, Kokoro Research Center, Kyoto University 

Collaborating Researchers
Sakiko Yoshikawa, Director/Professor, Institute of Philosophy & Human Values, Kyoto University of the Arts

Atsushi Nakazawa, Associate Professor, Department of Intelligence Science and Technology, Graduate School of Informatics, Kyoto University

Miwako Honda, Director, Department of General Medicine, Tokyo Medical Center


In the age of aging, the importance of care has been increasing. Also, those who are not elderly sometimes need help from others, for example if they get sick or injured and need nursing care. In such interpersonal assistance situations as caregiving / nursing care, it is considered that good human relations between the caregiver and the recipient based on communication are essential.


Actually, the care method “Humanitude,” which is effective in dementia care, emphasizes the value of conveying the message “you are important” to the recipient through the communication of looking into the eyes of patients, speaking to them gently, and touching them (Honda, Gineste, & Marescotti, 2014). Among such communications, non-verbal information that is transmitted to others in association with linguistic information is thought to have a great influence on the emotional state of the receiver and their interpersonal impression. For example, even if the contents are the same, the receiver’s impression greatly varies depending on whether the speaker looked in their eyes or not, and what the speaker’s facial expression and tone of voice were when speaking, and so on. A number of studies have been conducted on the influence of non-verbal information on emotional states and interpersonal impressions from the viewpoints of differences in transmitted non-verbal information, that is, gaze direction, facial expression etc., and also of differences in factors that the source of non-verbal information has, namely, the person’s attractiveness, gender, and age.


Most of these studies, however, were conducted using a common cognitive psychological experimental technique in which people sit in a chair and look at a stimulus (people images and movies) presented on a monitor or screen in front of them. On the other hand, in interpersonal assistance situations, communication is often conducted with the recipient lying in a bed or being pushed in a wheelchair. The position and situation of the recipient may be related to the way they receive non-verbal information and how that non-verbal information affects them. However, few studies which seek out these influences have been conducted (Nunoi, Nakazawa, & Yoshikawa, 2019).


The purpose of this study is to investigate the effects of non-verbal information in an interpersonal assistance situation using cognitive psychological experiments. Specifically, still images and movies of others with non-verbal information are presented to participants in the experiment who are actually lying in a bed or sitting, and the participants are asked to rate their emotional states and impressions of others.


In this way, we examine how the recipient processes non-verbal information from others in an interpersonal assistance situation. Furthermore, the effect of distance between the caregiver and the recipient is clarified by controlling the distance at which a face image is displayed. Thus, the study examines how interpersonal distance practiced by care professionals affects the reception of nonverbal information (Nakazawa, Mitsuzumi, Watanabe, Kurazume, Yoshikawa, & Honda, 2019).


This study provides a basic understanding of the influence of non-verbal information in care settings. This kind of study has not been conducted in conventional psychological research, nor in caregiving/nursing research, and thus will provide a scientific basis for better care methods. While the introduction of robots and artificial intelligence (AI) is expected to progress in the field of interpersonal assistance such as caregiving and nursing, this study will provide basic psychological data on the importance of building relationships and interpersonal communication that only humans can do.