Ursula Hess

Ursula Hess
Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin | HU Berlin · Department of Psychology

PhD

About

277
Publications
154,425
Reads
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11,304
Citations
Introduction
My research program is centered on the communication of emotions. In particular, I focus on the social factors that influence this process such as gender and intergroup relations.
Education
September 1986 - June 1989
Dartmouth College
Field of study
  • Psychology
October 1980 - July 1986
Justus-Liebig-Universität Gießen
Field of study
  • Psychology

Publications

Publications (277)
Article
Full-text available
The goal of this article is to discuss theoretical arguments concerning the idea that emotional mimicry is an intrinsic part of our social being and thus can be considered a social act. For this, we will first present the theoretical assumptions underlying the Emotional Mimicry as Social Regulator view. We then provide a brief overview of recent de...
Article
Full-text available
Prior research suggests that group membership impacts behavioral and self-reported responses to others’ facial expressions of emotion. In this paper, we examine how the mere labelling of a face as an ingroup or outgroup member affects facial mimicry (Study 1) and judgments of genuineness (Study 2). In addition, we test whether the effects of group...
Article
Full-text available
Adaptive emotional responding is crucial for psychological well‐being and the quality of social interactions. Resting heart rate variability (HRV), a measure of autonomic nervous system activity, has been suggested to index individual differences in emotion regulation (ER). As non‐intimate social interactions require more regulatory efforts than in...
Preprint
We investigated how emotion regulation (ER) effectiveness – both on a level of self-reported rating as well as emotional expression ( corrugator supercilii muscle activity) – is affected by the characteristics of the situation (low vs. high negativity), the strategy used (reappraisal, distraction, suppression, no regulation control condition) and i...
Article
Full-text available
Social exclusion influences how expressions are perceived and the tendency of the perceiver to mimic them. However, less is known about social exclusion's effect on one's own facial expressions. The aim of the present study was to identify the effects of social exclusion on Duchenne smiling behaviour, defined as activity of both zygomaticus major a...
Article
Full-text available
Research into Emotion Decoding Accuracy (EDA) has revealed limited associations with personality. One possible reason could be the neglect of social context influences on the perception of emotions, which is problematic given the interplay of personality with social context. We propose a novel way to understand accuracy in emotion perception, which...
Article
Full-text available
During the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, the public has often expressed great appreciation toward medical personnel who were often shown in the media expressing strong emotions about the situation. To examine whether the perception of people on a physician is in fact influenced by whether the physician treats patients with COVID-19...
Article
Full-text available
The accurate decoding of facial emotion expressions lies at the center of many research traditions in psychology. Much of this research, while paying lip service to the importance of context in emotion perception, has used stimuli that were carefully created to be deprived of contextual information. The participants' task is to associate the expres...
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
Full-text available
Face masks have been said to impact face-to-face interaction negatively. Yet, there is limited evidence on the degree to which partial face occlusion is detrimental to empathic processes such as emotion perception and facial mimicry. To address this question, we conducted an online experiment (N=200, U.K. sample) that assessed subjective ratings an...
Article
Full-text available
Emotion expressions convey information. One important kind of information, from a communicative perspective, is information about what is demanded of the recipients of the expression. Compared to the vast body of research that focuses on whether, and to what degree, emotion expressions convey information about inner states, there is surprisingly li...
Article
Full-text available
Two studies showed that emotion expressions serve as cues to the expresser’s willingness to take risks in general, as well as in five risk domains (ethical, financial, health and safety, recreational, and social). Emotion expressions did not have a uniform effect on risk estimates across risk domains. Rather, these effects fit behavioral intentions...
Article
The baby schema elicits care from potential caregivers. However, much of the research on the baby-schema is based on self-report only. To address this issue, we explored the effects of baby schema and child age on facial expressions (EMG), and eye-blink startle, in addition to self-reported liking and caring for 43 men and 48 women (39 parents). Fu...
Article
Full-text available
Emotion decoding competence can be addressed in different ways. In this study, clinical psychology, nursing, or social work students narrated a 2.5–3 min story about a self-experienced emotional event and also listened to another student’s story. Participants were video recorded during the session. Participants then annotated their own recordings r...
Article
Full-text available
When two or more individuals with different values, interests, and experiences work together, interpersonal conflicts are inevitable. Conflicts, in turn, can hinder or delay successful task completion. However, certain types of conflicts may also have beneficial effects. The literature differentiates between task conflicts (TCs) and relationship co...
Article
Full-text available
This research aimed to assess top-down effects of social judgments on (facial) emotional mimicry. Based on the mimicry as social regulator model (Hess & Fischer, 2013) and the notion that people can use emotion expressions as cues to an expresser's traits (Hareli & Hess, 2010), we predicted that participants judge expressers who show affectively de...
Article
Full-text available
To avoid contagion, we need information about the health status of those whom we engage with. This is especially important when we have a cause for concern that the other is indeed sick, such as is the case during the world-wide outbreak of the Corona virus in 2020. In three studies, one conducted several years before the pandemic, and two during t...
Article
The goal of this manuscript is to provide support for the notion that emotional mimicry is a social act. For this, I will provide a brief overview of recent developments in the domain of emotional mimicry research. I will present the mimicry in social context model of mimicry and evidence for four predictions that set this theory apart. Specificall...
Preprint
Full-text available
The early and preconscious processing of stimuli that are meaningful in everyday life includes systematical activations of many semantic, emotional and motor representations. Inhibitions should then occur in order to select, among these primed representations, those that are consistent with the context. Even in a lab this context is social, as it t...
Article
We proposed and tested the notion of a bidirectional influence of emotion expressions and context. In two studies (N = 215, N = 222), we found that the expressions shown by supporters and opponents of a player in a ball game were used by observers to correctly deduce the eliciting situation – i.e. the outcome of the game. Conversely, knowledge of t...
Poster
Full-text available
We found that the attitude resulting from the situational context does affects the intensity of the mimicry: (1) It is greater in the case of judgements that are based on affect and (2) It can be regulated. Moreover, the specific judgment tasks differentiated observers' expressions even in the absence of facial stimuli (e.g., participants frown whe...
Preprint
Full-text available
Emotional mimicry refers to the tendency to mimic other's emotions in order to share minds. We present new evidence that supports our Contextual Model of Emotional Mimicry, showing that emotional mimicry serves affiliative goals that vary across social contexts. This also implies the opposite, namely that we (unconsciously) refrain from mimicking o...
Chapter
More than maybe ever before, people from different cultures have to interact closely with one another. Such encounters are often a source of strong friction and one important reason for that is the different norms prevalent in each culture. Such norms can refer to a wide variety of behaviors and contexts and therefore there are many occasions where...
Chapter
Emotions shown by others inform us about the expresser and the situation at hand as well as the relevant norms and standards. As such, emotional expressions are an important source for social information. This chapter will summarize the reverse engineering model, which describes how the naïve theory that people hold about the appraisals patterns of...
Chapter
This introductory chapter presents The Emotion-based Inferences in Context (EBIC) model. The model delineates the main factors and processes that are involved in social perception of emotions in a dyadic context. The EBIC model serves as an organizing structure for the different chapters of this book, each referring to a different aspect of the mod...
Article
Full-text available
Although activity trackers are becoming more popular, little is known whether this new technology qualifies to improve employees' health. This study aimed to evaluate the effect of a workplace intervention applying activity trackers (behavioral approach) along with an online coach (cognitive approach) on work-related well-being (e.g., burnout) and...
Article
Full-text available
We proposed and tested the notion of a bidirectional influence of emotion expressions and context. In two studies (N=215, N=222), we found that the expressions shown by supporters and opponents of a player in a ball game were used by observers to correctly deduce the eliciting situation – i.e., the outcome of the game. Conversely, knowledge of the...
Presentation
Full-text available
Perceivers use the emotion expressions of others to draw inferences about the expressers and/or the situation. Much of the information drawn from these expressions is linked to the appraisal pattern typical for the emotion expressed. That is, the meaning of the typical situation that elicits a specific emotion. In the present talk, we move beyond t...
Article
Individuals use naïve emotion theories, including stereotypical information on the emotional disposition of an interaction partner, to form social impressions. In view of an aging population in Western societies, beliefs on emotion and age become more and more relevant. Across 10 studies, we thus present findings on how individuals associate specif...
Article
Full-text available
Conflicts or disagreements during which negative, antagonistic emotions are expressed are perceived as uncomfortable. By contrast, disagreements accompanied by positive, affiliative emotions are less detrimental to interaction quality. We assessed whether individual differences in emotional mimicry have differential effects on interaction quality d...
Conference Paper
Research into emotion perception accuracy has found limited associations with personality. A possible reason could be a neglect of social context, the related social-cognitive processes in perceiving emotion, and the interplay of personality with social context. We propose a novel way to understand accuracy in perceiving emotion (the Assessment of...
Conference Paper
Research into emotion perception accuracy has found limited associations with personality. A possible reason could be a neglect of social context, the related social-cognitive processes in perceiving emotion, and the interplay of personality with social context. We propose a novel way to understand accuracy in perceiving emotion (the Assessment of...
Article
Full-text available
Facial mimicry has long been considered a main mechanism underlying emotional contagion (i.e., the transfer of emotions between people). A closer look at the empirical evidence, however, reveals that although these two phenomena often co-occur, the changes in emotional expressions may not necessarily be causally linked to the changes in subjective...
Article
Full-text available
Despite advances in the conceptualisation of facial mimicry, its role in the processing of social information is a matter of debate. In the present study, we investigated the relationship between mimicry and cognitive and emotional empathy. To assess mimicry, facial electromyography was recorded for 70 participants while they completed the Multifac...
Article
Full-text available
Despite advances in the conceptualisation of facial mimicry, its role in the processing of social information is a matter of debate. In the present study, we investigated the relationship between mimicry and cognitive and emotional empathy. To assess mimicry, facial electromyography was recorded for 70 participants while they completed the Multifac...
Poster
Full-text available
Shows that a hotspot that constitutes a real physical threat to Ss causes the affective polarization of the surroundings in a German participants.
Article
Full-text available
While first impressions are often based on appearance cues, little is known about how these interact with information from other channels. The present research aimed to investigate the impact of occupational stereotypes, evoked by attire, as well as posture on person perception. For this, computer animation was used to create avatars with different...
Article
Full-text available
People can be moved and overwhelmed, a phenomenon typically accompanied by goose-bumps and tears. We argue that these feelings of being moved are not limited to situations that are appraised as pro-social but elicited when someone surpasses an internal standard. In line with these predictions, people were moved by relationships and success (Study 1...
Book
This book provides an overview of theoretical thinking about the communicative scope of emotional expressions as well as an overview of the state of the art research in emotional psychology. For many years, research in emotional psychology has been primarily concerned with the labeling of emotion expressions and the link between emotion expressions...
Article
This comment on Smith and van Dijk’s discussion of the antecedents and consequences of schadenfreude and gluckschmerz considers these emotions in an appraisal framework and discusses the usefulness of naming emotions that do not come with ready-made labels in many languages.
Article
Full-text available
Emotion expressions play a central role in social communication, which, by definition is a dynamic process. Social communication involves the exchange of signals with temporal dynamic properties between two or more individuals. Nonetheless, emotion perception research has strongly focused on the study of single, static, unidirectional images. The g...
Article
Full-text available
Alexithymia, the difficulty in identifying and describing emotions, has been found to contribute to problems in dyadic interactions and relationships. We studied the association between alexithymic tendencies, emotion perception biases and the quality of naturally occurring dyadic interactions. Participants completed the Toronto Alexithymia Scale (...
Article
We all occasionally need the help of others whom we do not know well. In four studies, we studied the influence of facial appearance of both the potential helper and the help seeker on such a decision. In three studies (1a-1c), across different help domains, participants rated a person with submissive facial appearance as more likely to help. This...
Chapter
The discussion of whether emotions are categorical in nature has loomed large ever since Darwin (1872) posited an evolutionary base for human emotion expressions. This discussion has traditionally conflated two issues. First, is emotion elicitation categorical, such that different emotions are associated with qualitatively different neural substrat...
Article
Full-text available
Moral foundation theory posits that specific moral transgressions elicit specific moral emotions (Haidt & Joseph, 2004, 2008). To test this claim, participants (N = 195) were asked to rate their emotions in response to moral violation vignettes. We found that compassion and disgust were associated with care and purity respectively as predicted by m...
Article
The present research tested the notion that emotion expressions and context are bidirectionally related. Specifically, in two studies focusing on moral violations (N = 288) and positive moral deviations (N = 245) respectively, we presented participants with short vignettes describing behaviors that were either (im)moral, (im)polite or unusual toget...
Article
Full-text available
Considerable research has shown effects of facial appearance on trait impressions and group stereotypes. We extended those findings in two studies that investigated the contribution of resemblance to emotion expressions and attractiveness to younger adults (YA) and older adults (OA) age and gender stereotypes on the dimensions of warmth and compete...
Article
How people react emotionally to an event can tell us much about the event itself. However, emotions vary in their situative informativeness, that is, in how much information about the situation they provide. We predicted that when emotions are shown which are low in situative informativeness participants rely more on context information, then when...
Article
Full-text available
Living near an unsafe housing block or a landfill is unattractive because of their negative influence on the environment. The question we ask is: would a nearby attractive location cancel out this negative influence? In two studies participants were shown fictitious neighborhoods that contained an unattractive location (an unsafe housing block or a...
Preprint
Data from two studies were used to estimate the reliability of facial EMG when used to index facial mimicry (Study 1) or affective reactions to pictorial stimuli (Study 2). Results for individual muscle sites varied between muscles and depending on data treatment. For ifference scores, acceptable internal consistencies were found only for corrugato...
Article
Full-text available
Contrary to lay conceptions, unattractive locations can under certain circumstances increase the perceived value of neighboring areas. This phenomenon is akin to a contrast effect. However, extant research on this type of contrast suffers from two limitations. First, the use of repeated measures may inflate the likelihood of observing a contrast ef...
Article
Conflicts are an undesirable yet common aspect of daily interactions with wide‐ranging negative consequences. The present research aimed to examine the buffering effect of experimentally instructed reappraisal on self‐reported, physiological and behavioral stress indices during interpersonal conflicts, taking into account habitual emotion regulatio...
Article
Full-text available
In two samples, one from Greece and another from Germany, we examined relationships between self-construal, emotional experience, and the quality of social interactions. In Greece, a more collectivistic culture, the negative affect people experienced in social interactions was more weakly related to the quality of social interactions for those high...
Article
As intergenerational interactions increase due to an ageing population, the study of emotion-related responses to the elderly is increasingly relevant. Previous research found mixed results regarding affective mimicry – a measure related to liking and affiliation. In the current study, we investigated emotional mimicry to younger and older actors f...
Article
Full-text available
The notion that motivation influences empathic accuracy has been inferred from aspects of the task, the situation or the relationship between interaction partners or between groups. The present research assessed whether monetary reward influences cognitive and affective empathy. In Study 1, cognitive empathy was assessed for 42 participants who dec...
Article
Data from two studies were used to estimate the reliability of facial EMG when used to index facial mimicry (Study 1) or affective reactions to pictorial stimuli (Study 2). Results for individual muscle sites varied between muscles and depending on data treatment. For difference scores, acceptable internal consistencies were found only for corrugat...
Article
In two samples, one from Greece and another from Germany, we examined relationships between self-construal, emotional experience, and the quality of social interactions. In Greece, a more collectivistic culture, the negative affect people experienced in social interactions was more weakly related to the quality of social interactions for those high...
Chapter