Date of Award


Document Type



Edith Cowan University

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts (Psychology) Honours


School of Arts and Humanities

First Supervisor

Dr Shane Rogers

Second Supervisor

Dr Craig Speelman


To date engagement in face-to-face conversation has been studied almost exclusively through the post event measurement of self-reporting surveys or questionnaires. Electroencephalography (EEG) has been used for decades to examine brain activity for both research and diagnostic purposes. Medical grade EEG equipment is both costly and confined to being used within laboratory settings. With the recent advent of off-the-shelf consumer grade portable EEG-devices, novel psychological research on cognitive computations that have traditionally been confined to self-report, is now a reality. Although it is well documented that people use their cognitive abilities during conversations, an extensive literature search found no studies on the use of EEG data to obtain a neurological engagement score during conversation. Consequently, the present study sought to remedy a gap in the literature, and capitalised on the readily available consumer-grade portable EEG equipment. A within-participants quantitative study with 42 participants examined whether EEG predicted engagement during face-to-face getting acquainted conversations. Participants’ alpha and beta brain activity were examined from EEG data collected during two separate conversations, and participants also completed a post-hoc self-report on their engagement and attention. The results of the study found a significant difference for participants’ alpha brain activity and engagement, but not for the beta activity and engagement. There was also no significant difference found for participants attention and their alpha or beta activity. A surprising additional finding in the present study was a within-participant consistency for both alpha and beta activity across the two conversations, which is consistent with individual differences stability found in other psychophysiological studies. Overall, the present study has found that alpha activity is necessary for neurological engagement during face-to-face getting acquainted conversations. Therefore, future research is warranted on the use of EEG as an additional tool in face-to-face communication to compliment self-report and measure engagement.

Included in

Psychology Commons