Christopher A Thorstenson

Christopher A Thorstenson
Rochester Institute of Technology | RIT · Munsell Color Science Laboratory

PhD

About

26
Publications
9,014
Reads
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291
Citations
Citations since 2016
25 Research Items
285 Citations
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20162017201820192020202120220204060
Introduction
I am primarily interested in the social information that is conveyed through changes in facial coloration. I am exploring how the face changes color during emotion expression and social interaction, and how these color changes are perceived and used as information by others. I am also interested in the remote measurement of skin-color properties as indices of physiological states, developing models of skin color perception, and the role of color in visualizations.
Additional affiliations
June 2019 - present
University of Wisconsin–Madison
Position
  • PostDoc Position
August 2012 - May 2019
University of Rochester
Position
  • PhD Student
August 2010 - May 2012
Appalachian State University
Position
  • M.A. Student

Publications

Publications (26)
Article
Facial expressions of emotion contain important information that is perceived and used by observers to understand others’ emotional state. While there has been considerable research into perceptions of facial musculature and emotion, less work has been conducted to understand perceptions of facial coloration and emotion. The current research examin...
Article
Full-text available
An emerging body of research has demonstrated that facial color can influence a range of social judgments. The current article reviews facial color for three interconnected lines of research: exploring how faces might change color due to psychological and physiological processes, how changes in facial color influence social perception and judgments...
Article
Facial expressions of emotion include both muscular and color modulations that contribute to the accurate perception of emotion. However, some emotion categories share common facial-muscular features during the dynamic expressive sequence, which can lead to confusion and misidentification. The current research posits that a potential social functio...
Article
Typical human color vision is trichromatic, on the basis that we have three distinct classes of photoreceptors. A recent evolutionary account posits that trichromacy facilitates detecting subtle skin color changes to better distinguish important social states related to proceptivity, health, and emotion in others. Across two experiments, we manipul...
Article
Facial blushing involves a reddening of the face elicited in situations involving unwanted social attention. Such situations include being caught committing a social transgression, which is typically considered embarrassing. While recent research has demonstrated that facial redness can influence social evaluations, including emotional states such...
Article
According to the familiar axiom, the eyes are the window to the soul. However, wearing masks to prevent the spread of viruses such as COVID-19 involves obscuring a large portion of the face. Do the eyes carry sufficient information to allow for the accurate perception of emotions in dynamic expressions obscured by masks? What about the perception o...
Article
Full-text available
Emotion expressions facilitate interpersonal communication by conveying information about a person’s affective state. The current work investigates how facial coloration (i.e., subtle changes in chromaticity from baseline facial color) impacts the perception of, and memory for, emotion expressions, and whether these depend on dynamic (vs. static) r...
Article
Awe is a fascinating emotion, associated with positive consequences such as greater prosociality, generosity, and epistemic openness. Unfortunately, in spite of the weighty consequences of awe, the exact way in which it arises, and what it entails, is still a puzzle. Particularly puzzling is the question of whether awe is the result of expectancy v...
Article
Full-text available
Previous research has shown that red can increase men’s perception of women’s attractiveness. However, this effect is absent under certain conditions, such as when women have masculine, unattractive, or older features. We sought to test whether this red-attraction effect would be present at the other end of the continuum, specifically, for highly a...
Article
Previous research has demonstrated that some pairs of emotion expressions are confusing to observers because they share common facial-muscular expressive features. Recent research has suggested that another expressive feature, facial coloration, can facilitate the disambiguation of these emotion expressions. The current work tests this hypothesis b...
Article
Full-text available
Various contextual factors, such as color, modify how emotions are perceived on the face. In particular, the color red enhances categorization of anger on faces. Yet, an open question remains as to whether red facilitates anger categorization uniformly or whether this effect is specific to targets with characteristics already highly associated with...
Article
Perceptions of others' social characteristics are essential for guiding social behaviour and decision making. Recent research has demonstrated that increased facial redness facilitates both positive (e.g. health, attractiveness, happiness) and negative (e.g. dominance, anger) social evaluations. Given that similar facial colouration can lead to div...
Article
Full-text available
The white sclera is important in facilitating gaze perception in humans. Iris color may likewise influence gaze perception but no previous studies have directly assessed its effect. We therefore examined how the interaction between sclera and iris color influences human gaze perception. We recorded the eye movements of human participants as they pe...
Article
Full-text available
Over the past 10 years, Oosterhof and Todorov’s valence–dominance model has emerged as the most prominent account of how people evaluate faces on social dimensions. In this model, two dimensions (valence and dominance) underpin social judgements of faces. Because this model has primarily been developed and tested in Western regions, it is unclear w...
Preprint
Full-text available
According to the familiar axiom, the eyes are the window to the soul. However, wearing masks to prevent the spread of COVID-19 involves occluding a large portion of the face. Do the eyes carry all of the information we need to perceive each other’s emotions? We addressed this question in two studies. In the first, 162 Amazon Mechanical Turk (MTurk)...
Preprint
Full-text available
Over the last ten years, Oosterhof and Todorov’s valence-dominance model has emerged as the most prominent account of how people evaluate faces on social dimensions. In this model, two dimensions (valence and dominance) underpin social judgments of faces. Because this model has primarily been developed and tested in Western regions, it is unclear w...
Article
Research on how color affects psychological functioning has grown in recent years. The majority of these studies have focused on hue or lightness, while paying little attention to chroma. The present research sought to address this oversight in the literature by investigating the degree to which chroma influences person perception, specifically wit...
Article
The multitude of research on human color preferences has primarily focused on hue. Only a modicum of research has focused on preferences along the chroma dimension of color. The present research examines how extraversion relates to a preference for high and low-chroma colors (with chroma being manipulated while holding hue and lightness constant)....
Article
Facial color is a significant source of social information, providing cues to physiological and psychological phenomena, such as physical health and emotion. On the basis that detecting such cues in others is advantageous, past work has shown that individuals detect color differences with more accuracy when viewing faces than non-faces. The current...
Article
Past research has found that skin colouration, particularly facial redness, influences the perceived health and emotional state of target individuals. In the current work, we explore several extensions of this past research. In Experiment 1, we manipulated facial redness incrementally on neutral and angry faces and had participants rate each face f...
Article
Past research has shown that peripheral and facial redness influences perceptions of attractiveness for men viewing women. The current research investigated whether a parallel effect is present when women rate men with varying facial redness. In four experiments, women judged the attractiveness of men’s faces, which were presented with varying degr...
Article
In the present research, we investigated whether the red-attraction relation that has been observed for men viewing women may also be observed with regard to women's facial redness. We manipulated facial redness by slightly increasing or decreasing the redness on the faces of baseline pictures of target women, and then had men judge the attractiven...
Article
Research has shown that subtle stimuli and action can elicit approach and avoidance motivational states. In separate literatures, both the color red and enacting avoidance behavior have been hypothesized to evoke avoidance motivation. The purpose of the present research was to both replicate and empirically integrate prior work on red and enacted a...

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