People use head movements in conversation to convey a range of meanings and emotions. Women use these more than men but when men and women are talking to each other both sexes adapt; women use slightly fewer movements and men slightly more. However, it is unclear whether people do this in reaction to the other person's gender or through 'mirroring' the person they are speaking to. Researchers at the University of Virginia used sophisticated computer technology to preserve the movements of people but change their sex. They recorded a women's head movements, transposed them onto a man's face and played them to participants in the study who thought they were talking to a real person. They found that the participants responded to the head movements of the 'person' they were talking to, suggesting that it is mirroring rather than gender that lies behind the increased frequency of men's head movements when they speak to women.
You can find out more about this research at