The Biological Origins of Automated Patterns of Human Interaction


  • Joseph N. Cappella

    1. ICA Fellow, is Professor of Communications in the Annenberg School, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA 191 04. A version of this essay was delivered as the Department of Communication Studies' Van Zelst Lecture at Northwestern University, May 9, 1988. The author wishes to thank the Van Zelst Trust and the Department of Communication Studies at Northwestern University for the opportunity to prepare this article. Comments from Jude12 Burgoon, Chris Nelson, Peter Andersen, Becky Omdahl, and anonymous reviewers were much appreciated, as were questions from Larry Gross, Carolyn Marvin, Robert Hornik, and Klaus Krippendorff
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The biological origins of automated patterns of- human interaction are explored. Automated patterns of interaction are distinguished from deliberate patterns. Automated patterns consist of two particular types: stimulation regulation and emotional responsiveness. Evidence for the biological origins of these patterns is obtained by studying the early interactions of infants and neonates, surveying the ethological parallels, exploring the evolutionary adaptiveness of the specific patterns, and ascertaining physiological, psychophar-macological, and brain mechanisms responsible for the putterns. Although circumstantial, the case for a biological basis for stimulation regulation and emotional responsiveness is very suggestive.