First moments of face-to-face interactions are subject of research by Danielle Pillet-Shore

Tuesday, September 25, 2018
headshot of Danielle Pillet-Shore

Danielle Pillet-Shore, associate professor of communication

How many people have you greeted today, even just in passing? Over the course of your lifetime, or even over the past few days, how many times have you introduced yourself to someone new? And how many times have you arrived to some social scene after enduring bad traffic or inclement weather, and you find yourself talking about that experience as you arrive?

What happens in these opening moments of face-to-face interactions is what Danielle Pillet-Shore studies. An associate professor in the Department of Communication, Pillet-Shore has recently guest edited a special issue of the leading international journal in her field, Research on Language and Social Interaction. The volume, entitled “Opening and Maintaining Face-to-Face Interaction,” draws on her extensive research on the openings of copresent encounters.

“These phenomena are so deeply part of the background of our daily social lives that effort is required to notice them,” says Pillet-Shore. “This special issue helps us perceive these incredibly familiar everyday phenomena, in a sense for the very first time, and shows that people — rather than being idiosyncratic or chaotic — are in fact orderly in everyday, spontaneous interaction with others.”

Pillet-Shore authored two of the seven articles in the issue, which also includes an article by UNH faculty member Mardi Kidwell. Pillet-Shore’s “How to Begin” introduces the issue and elucidates state-of-the-art findings from conversation analytic research on how people begin encounters. Her second article, “Arriving: Expanding the Personal State Sequence” explains how people show how they’re doing and feeling as they arrive to a social encounter as a way of bidding for empathy from others.

“The beginnings of our encounters with others are microcosmic encapsulations of our social relationships,” says Pillet-Shore.

The entire issue is available online at

Pillet-Shore teaches courses on language and social interaction, conversation analysis and institutional interaction, including in emergency service, legal, medical, family-school and political contexts. Her research has been published in the Journal of Communication and Communication Monographs, as well as in Social Psychology Quarterly, Social Science and Medicine, Language in Society and Discourse Studies. Her work has also appeared in previous volumes of Research on Language and Social Interaction. 

Lisa Nugent | Web & Mobile Development