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. 2015 Jul 30;10(7):e0133902.
doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0133902. eCollection 2015.

Introducing RISC: A New Video Inventory for Testing Social Perception

Free PMC article

Introducing RISC: A New Video Inventory for Testing Social Perception

Kathrin Rothermich et al. PLoS One. .
Free PMC article


Indirect forms of speech, such as sarcasm, jocularity (joking), and 'white lies' told to spare another's feelings, occur frequently in daily life and are a problem for many clinical populations. During social interactions, information about the literal or nonliteral meaning of a speaker unfolds simultaneously in several communication channels (e.g., linguistic, facial, vocal, and body cues); however, to date many studies have employed uni-modal stimuli, for example focusing only on the visual modality, limiting the generalizability of these results to everyday communication. Much of this research also neglects key factors for interpreting speaker intentions, such as verbal context and the relationship of social partners. Relational Inference in Social Communication (RISC) is a newly developed (English-language) database composed of short video vignettes depicting sincere, jocular, sarcastic, and white lie social exchanges between two people. Stimuli carefully manipulated the social relationship between communication partners (e.g., boss/employee, couple) and the availability of contextual cues (e.g. preceding conversations, physical objects) while controlling for major differences in the linguistic content of matched items. Here, we present initial perceptual validation data (N = 31) on a corpus of 920 items. Overall accuracy for identifying speaker intentions was above 80% correct and our results show that both relationship type and verbal context influence the categorization of literal and nonliteral interactions, underscoring the importance of these factors in research on speaker intentions. We believe that RISC will prove highly constructive as a tool in future research on social cognition, inter-personal communication, and the interpretation of speaker intentions in both healthy adults and clinical populations.

Conflict of interest statement

Competing Interests: The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.


Fig 1
Fig 1. Character relationships.
Structure of the relationship among the four characters who communicated different intentions in the RISC vignettes.
Fig 2
Fig 2. Accuracy in Hu scores.
Hu scores for scenes with and without verbal context, displayed by intention type and relationship.
Fig 3
Fig 3. The effect of sex.
Hu scores for female and male participants by intention and relationship.

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Grant support

KR: Fonds de recherche du Québec - Santé 30095 (; MDP: Discovery grant from the natural sciences and engineering research council of Canada; RGPIN 203708-11 ( The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.