Paula M Niedenthal

Paula M Niedenthal
University of Wisconsin–Madison | UW · Department of Psychology

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173
Publications
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Publications

Publications (173)
Preprint
Cooperating with another person requires communicating intentions and coordinating behavior. People often accomplish these tasks using spoken language, but verbal communication is not always available. Here, we test the hypothesis that, to establish successful cooperative interaction, people compensate for the temporary loss of one means, verbal co...
Preprint
Full-text available
Over evolution, humans have primarily responded to dissimilar others (“strangers”) with flight or fight responses. Despite this, contemporary migration patterns are increasing intergroup contact. What gives rise to an individual’s ability to regulate their arousal such that social engagement with outgroup members is possible? We propose that cultur...
Article
Cooperating with another person requires communicating intentions and coordinating behavior. People often accomplish these tasks using spoken language, but verbal communication is not always available. Here, we test the hypothesis that, to establish successful cooperative interaction, people compensate for the temporary loss of one means, verbal co...
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
The set of 30 stimulating commentaries on our target article helps to define the areas of our initial position that should be reiterated or else made clearer and, more importantly, the ways in which moderators of and extensions to the SIMS can be imagined. In our response, we divide the areas of discussion into (1) a clarification of our meaning of...
Article
Recent application of theories of embodied or grounded cognition to the recognition and interpretation of facial expression of emotion has led to an explosion of research in psychology and the neurosciences. However, despite the accelerating number of reported findings, it remains unclear how the many component processes of emotion and their neural...
Article
Fiction reading experience affects emotion recognition abilities, yet the causal link remains underspecified. Current theory suggests fiction reading promotes the simulation of fictional minds, which supports emotion recognition skills. We examine the extent to which contextualized statistical experience with emotion category labels in language is...
Article
Cultural context shapes individuals' valuation of emotions. Although studies have documented cultural differences in beliefs about the utility of negative emotions, little is known about how such cultural valuation is associated with physiological stress responses. In the present work, we examined whether East Asians and European Americans differ i...
Article
Smiles are nonverbal signals that convey social information and influence the social behavior of recipients, but the precise form and social function of a smile can be variable. In previous work, we have proposed that there are at least three physically distinct types of smiles associated with specific social functions: reward smiles signal positiv...
Preprint
The U.S. political landscape is increasingly polarized. Political polarization is made especially salient when visualized using a two-tone U.S. map with red Republican-leaning states and blue Democrat-leaning states. However, such dichotomization conceals the true spectrum of political opinion and voting patterns. We asked whether dichotomizing map...
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)...
Article
A recent “rural resentment” hypothesis holds that the rise of conservative politicians in the state of Wisconsin is explained by rural residents’ resentment of beneficiaries of economic advantages, especially government employees (Cramer, Katherine J. 2016. The Politics of Resentment: Rural Consciousness in Wisconsin and the Rise of Scott Walker. U...
Preprint
Through their nuanced ability to reinforce, reassure, and judge, smiles accomplish many tasks in daily interactions. A recent approach proposes that there are at least three distinct types of smiles: reward, affiliation, and dominance, which are predicted to take different physical forms and serve unique functions in social communication. Although...
Preprint
Full-text available
[CHAPTER] The reproduction of another individual’s emotions in the self – the embodiment of perceived emotions – has been demonstrated to constitute one mechanism for emotional information processing. That is, seeing someone’s emotion expressions and using one’s own face to make the same expression helps the perceiver represent the emotion of the o...
Article
Full-text available
In most primates, eye contact is an implicit signal of threat, and often connotes social status and imminent physical aggression. However, in humans and some of the gregarious nonhuman primates, eye contact is tolerated more and may be used to communicate other emotional and mental states. What accounts for the variation in this critical social cue...
Preprint
The present work advances the science of the smile by investigating how perceivers mentally represent this heterogenous expression. Across both perception- and production-based tasks, we report evidence that perceivers mentally represent reward, affiliation, and dominance smiles as distinct categories associated with specific behaviors, social cont...
Preprint
Others’ facial expressions can influence whether we trust them. For example, smiles tend to elicit positive impressions and increased cooperation. But how are smiles perceived when displayed by someone who has violated our trust? Here, we investigated the effects of reward, affiliation, and dominance smiles displayed after intergroup trust violatio...
Article
Background and objectives: Negative interpretation biases are postulated to play etiological and maintaining roles in social anxiety (SA). However, empirical support for interpretation biases of facial expression in SA is inconsistent. Given the importance of signals of (dis)approval in SA, our objective was to examine whether SA is associated wit...
Article
Full-text available
Spontaneous facial mimicry is modulated by many factors, and often needs to be suppressed to comply with social norms. The neural basis for the inhibition of facial mimicry was investigated in a combined functional magnetic resonance imaging and electromyography study in 39 healthy participants. In an operant conditioning paradigm, face identities...
Article
Sometimes risk involves taking actions that in and of themselves elicit emotion, often fearful emotions. Across two studies we test the hypothesis that preventing facial actions associated with fear and anxiety responses during a risky decision task leads to greater risk taking. We first demonstrate that while performing the balloon analogue risk t...
Article
Human emotional behavior varies across cultures. Smiling at a passing stranger on the street may seem perfectly normal in one culture and profoundly strange or even suspicious in another. What are the origins of cultural differences in emotional expression, communication, and regulation? We review new evidence in favor of one answer to this questio...
Article
Full-text available
One of the biggest challenges in the study of emotion–cognition interaction is addressing the question of whether and how emotions influence processes of perception as distinct from other higher-level cognitive processes. Most theories of emotion agree that an emotion episode begins with a sensory experience – such as a visual percept – that elicit...
Article
The present research comprises six experiments that investigated racial biases in the perception of positive emotional expressions. In an initial study, we demonstrated that White participants distinguished more in their happiness ratings of Duchenne (“true”) and non-Duchenne (“false”) smiles on White compared with Black faces (Experiment 1). In a...
Article
Full-text available
Recognising a facial expression is more difficult when the expresser's body conveys incongruent affect. Existing research has documented such interference for universally recognisable bodily expressions. However, it remains unknown whether learned, conventional gestures can interfere with facial expression processing. Study 1 participants (N = 62)...
Conference Paper
What are facial expressions for? In social-functional accounts, they are efficient adaptations that are used flexibly to address the problems inherent to successful social living. Facial expressions both broadcast emotions and regulate the emotions of perceivers. Research from my laboratory focuses on the human smile and demonstrates how this very...
Article
Full-text available
Emotion concepts are important. They help us to understand, experience and predict human behaviour. Emotion concepts also link the realm of the abstract with the realm of bodily experience and actions. Accordingly, the key question is how such concepts are created, represented and used. Embodied cognition theories hold that concepts are grounded in...
Article
Full-text available
Recent findings demonstrate that heterogeneity of long-history migration predicts present-day emotion behaviors and norms. Residents of countries characterized by high ancestral diversity display emotion expressions that are easier to decode by observers, endorse norms of higher emotion expressivity, and smile more in response to certain stimuli th...
Preprint
Recognition of affect expressed in the face is disrupted when the body expresses an incongruent affect. Existing research has documented such interference for universally recognizable bodily expressions. However, it remains unknown whether learned, conventional gestures can interfere with facial expression processing. Study 1 participants (N = 62)...
Preprint
Full-text available
Recent findings demonstrate that heterogeneity of long-history migration predicts present-day emotion behaviors and norms. Residents of countries characterized by high ancestral diversity display emotion expressions that are easier to decode by observers, endorse norms of higher emotion expressivity, and smile more in response to certain stimuli th...
Article
Full-text available
When people are being evaluated, their whole body responds. Verbal feedback causes robust activation in the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis. What about nonverbal evaluative feedback? Recent discoveries about the social functions of facial expression have documented three morphologically distinct smiles, which serve the functions of reinfo...
Article
Full-text available
Recent research suggests that conceptual or emotional factors could influence the perceptual processing of stimuli. In this article, we aimed to evaluate the effect of social information (positive, negative, or no information related to the character of the target) on subjective (perceived and felt valence and arousal), physiological (facial mimicr...
Article
The human smile is highly variable in both its form and the social contexts in which it is displayed. A social-functional account identifies three distinct smile expressions defined in terms of their effects on the perceiver: reward smiles reinforce desired behavior; affiliation smiles invite and maintain social bonds; and dominance smiles manage h...
Article
Full-text available
A smile is the most frequent facial expression, but not all smiles are equal. A social-functional account holds that smiles of reward, affiliation, and dominance serve basic social functions, including rewarding behavior, bonding socially, and negotiating hierarchy. Here, we characterize the facial-expression patterns associated with these three ty...
Article
Despite their relative universality, nonverbal displays of emotion are often sources of cross-cultural misunderstandings. The present article considers the relevance of historical and present socio-ecological contexts, such as heterogeneity of long-history migration, pathogen prevalence, and residential mobility for cross-cultural variation in emot...
Article
Full-text available
Objective: Here, we develop an integrative account of the roles of emotion in decision-making. In Part I, we illustrate how emotional inputs into decisions may rely on physiological signals from emotions experienced while making the decision, and we review evidence suggesting that the failure to represent the emotional meaning of options can often...
Preprint
Full-text available
In the past decade, different studies have suggested that high-order factors could influence the perceptual processing of emotional stimuli. In this study, we aimed to evaluate the effect of congruent vs. incongruent social information (positive, negative or no information related to the character of the target) on subjective (perceived and felt va...
Article
The neuropeptide oxytocin (OT) has many potential social benefits. For example, intranasal administration of OT appears to trigger caregiving behavior and to improve the recognition of emotional facial expressions. But the mechanism for these effects is not yet clear. Recent findings relating OT to action imitation and to the visual processing of t...
Article
George Lakoff (2015) discusses how emotion metaphors reflect the discrete bodily states associated with each emotion. The analysis raises questions about the context for and frequency of use of emotion metaphors and, indeed, emotion labels (e.g., “angry”), per se. An assumption implicit to most theories of emotion is that emotion language is just a...
Article
Guidelines for submitting commentsPolicy: Comments that contribute to the discussion of the article will be posted within approximately three business days. We do not accept anonymous comments. Please include your email address; the address will not be displayed in the posted comment. Cell Press Editors will screen the comments to ensure that they...
Article
Importance The ability of patients with unilateral facial paralysis to recognize and appropriately judge facial expressions remains underexplored.Objective To test the effects of unilateral facial paralysis on the recognition of and judgments about facial expressions of emotion and to evaluate the asymmetry of facial mimicry.Design, Setting, and...
Article
When we observe a facial expression of emotion, we often mimic it. This automatic mimicry reflects underlying sensorimotor simulation that supports accurate emotion recognition. Why this is so is becoming more obvious: emotions are patterns of expressive, behavioral, physiological, and subjective feeling responses. Activation of one component can t...
Article
Recent work (Rychlowska et al., 2015) demonstrated the power of a relatively new cultural dimension, historical heterogeneity, in predicting cultural differences in the endorsement of emotion expression norms. Historical heterogeneity describes the number of source countries that have contributed to a country’s present-day population over the last...
Article
Full-text available
Looking at another person's facial expression of emotion can trigger the same neural processes involved in producing the expression, and such responses play a functional role in emotion recognition. Disrupting individuals' facial action, for example, interferes with verbal emotion recognition tasks. We tested the hypothesis that facial responses al...
Article
Full-text available
Individuals spontaneously categorize other people on the basis of their gender, ethnicity, and age. But what about the emotions they express? In this research we tested the hypothesis that facial expressions are similar to other social categories in that they can function as contextual cues to control attention. Specifically, we associated expressi...
Article
Full-text available
Abstract A small number of facial expressions may be universal in that they are produced by the same basic affective states and recognized as such throughout the world. However, other aspects of emotionally expressive behavior vary widely across culture. Just why do they vary? We propose that some cultural differences in expressive behavior are de...
Article
Full-text available
Previous studies have revealed a gender bias in ratings of the valence and intensity of supraliminally presented facial expressions of emotion such that positive emotions receive higher ratings when expressed by females and negative emotions receive higher ratings when expressed by males. However, surprisingly, this gender bias has not been investi...
Chapter
Full-text available
• The structure of the chapter is roughly as follows. We begin by contrasting embodiment theories with their main competitors—theories that emphasize the amodal, propositional nature of mental representations. We then review some evidence for embodied processing in more cognitive domains. We then move on to a detailed description of research on emb...
Article
When forming basic social impressions, it is important to quickly and accurately classify facial expressions (including their spontaneity). Early studies on emotion perception, employing static pictures in the chimeric-face paradigm, demonstrated that expressions shown on the left hemi-face (LHF) were rated as more intense, compared to the right he...
Article
Full-text available
Research shows that pacifiers disrupt infants’ mimicry of facial expressions. This experiment examines whether pacifiers interfere with caretakers’ ability to mimic infants’ emotions. Adults saw photographs of infants with or without a pacifier. When infants had pacifiers, perceivers showed reduced EMG activity to infants’ smiles. Smiles of infants...
Article
Full-text available
Findings in the neuroimaging literature suggest that separate brain circuitries are involved when individuals perform emotional compared to nonemotional working memory (WM) tasks. Here we test this hypothesis with behavioural measures. We predicted that the conceptual processing of affect would be disrupted more by concurrent affective than nonaffe...
Article
Full-text available
The mechanisms through which people perceive different types of smiles and judge their authenticity remain unclear. Here, 19 different types of smiles were created based on the Facial Action Coding System (FACS), using highly controlled, dynamic avatar faces. Participants observed short videos of smiles while their facial mimicry was measured with...
Article
Full-text available
Recent research suggests that facial mimicry underlies accurate interpretation of subtle facial expressions. In three experiments, we manipulated mimicry and tested its role in judgments of the genuineness of true and false smiles. Experiment 1 used facial EMG to show that a new mouthguard technique for blocking mimicry modifies both the amount and...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Smiles are complex facial expressions that carry multiple meanings. Recent literature suggests that deep processing of smiles via embodied simulation can be triggered by achieved eye contact. Three studies supported this prediction. In Study 1, participants rated the emotional impact of portraits, which varied in eye contact and smiling. Smiling po...
Article
Full-text available
Research in psychology and neuroscience suggests that facial mimicry plays a causal role in understanding facial expression of emotion. Accurate understanding of facial emotion, in turn, grounds emotional development. Are pacifiers, which disrupt facial mimicry in the user, associated with compromised emotional development? We examined facial mimic...
Article
Full-text available
Answers to the question "What are human emotions for?" have stimulated highly productive programs of research on emotional phenomena in psychology and neuroscience in the past decade. Although a variety of functions have been proposed and examined at different levels of abstraction, what is undeniable is that when emotional processing is compromise...
Article
Full-text available
The high sensitivity and need to adjust to others' expectations may make Japanese, compared to Americans, more anxious in interpersonal contexts and especially more vigilant to signs of disapproval (such as the disappearance of happiness from another’s face) but not to other signs (such as the disappearance of sadness). By using a morph movie parad...
Article
Full-text available
The judgment that a smile is based on "true," usually positive, feelings affects social interaction. However, the processes underlying the interpretation of a smile as being more or less genuine are not well understood. The aim of the present research was to test predictions of the Simulation of Smiles Model (SIMS) proposed by Niedenthal, Mermillod...
Article
Full-text available
Parkinson's disease (PD) and Tourette's syndrome (TS) lead to important motor disorders among patients such as possible facial amimia in PD and tics in Tourette's syndrome. Under the grounded cognition framework that shows the importance of motor embodiment in emotional feeling (Niedenthal, 2007), both types of pathology with motor symptoms should...
Chapter
This chapter briefly reviews models of the conceptual system on which most research in social cognition research was based until very recently. It then outlines the principles of another account, which is the theory of embodied or grounded cognition. Relevant research findings are presented to demonstrate how several dimensions of experience, such...
Article
Full-text available
The set of 30 stimulating commentaries on our target article helps to define the areas of our initial position that should be reiterated or else made clearer and, more importantly, the ways in which moderators of and extensions to the SIMS can be imagined. In our response, we divide the areas of discussion into (1) a clarification of our meaning of...
Article
Full-text available
Recent application of theories of embodied or grounded cognition to the recognition and interpretation of facial expression of emotion has led to an explosion of research in psychology and the neurosciences. However, despite the accelerating number of reported findings, it remains unclear how the many component processes of emotion and their neural...