ArticlePDF Available

Facial expressions of emotion influence interpersonal trait inferences

Authors:

Abstract

Theorists have argued that facial expressions of emotion serve the interpersonal function of allowing one animal to predict another's behavior. Humans may extend these predictions into the indefinite future, as in the case of trait inference. The hypothesis that facial expressions of emotion (e.g., anger, disgust, fear, happiness, and sadness) affect subjects' interpersonal trait inferences (e.g., dominance and affiliation) was tested in two experiments. Subjects rated the dispositional affiliation and dominance of target faces with either static or apparently moving expressions. They inferred high dominance and affiliation from happy expressions, high dominance and low affiliation from angry and disgusted expressions, and low dominance from fearful and sad expressions. The findings suggest that facial expressions of emotion convey not only a target's internal state, but also differentially convey interpersonal information, which could potentially seed trait inference.
... duire des expressions faciales variées et expriment plus facilement de la colère ou du dégout que de la tristesse ou de la peur [Carney et al., 2005]. Les sourires et expressions de joies sont principalement corrélés à la dimension d'affiliation : les individus souriant plus souvent sont ainsi perçus avec un niveau d'affiliation élevé [Knutson, 1996] [Burgoon et al., 1984]. Le regard donne également de précieux indices quant à l'attitude sociale exprimée. ...
... Des émotions de tristesse, de peur ou d'admiration viendront au contraire faire diminuer ce niveau de dominance. Les auteurs s'appuient également sur les travaux de Knutson pour prendre en compte les émotions exprimées par l'interlocuteur de l'agent A [Knutson, 1996]. Ainsi, si l'agent B exprime de la peur ou de la tristesse envers l'agent A, la dominance de l'agent A est augmentée. ...
Thesis
Afin d’être considérés comme des partenaires crédibles lors d’une interaction, les agents virtuels doivent transmettre une attitude sociale adéquate. Cette attitude sociale exprimée par l’agent doit refléter la situation dans laquelle il se trouve. L’agent doit donc prendre en compte son rôle et sa relation sociale vis à vis de son interlocuteur lorsqu’il choisit comment réagir au cours de l’interaction. Afin de construire un tel agent capable de raisonner en fonction de son rôle et de sa relation, et capable d’adapter son attitude sociale, nous avons construit un modèle de prise de décision sociale. Dans un premier temps, nous formalisons la dynamique de la relation sociale à travers une combinaison de buts et de croyances. Puis, nous définissons un modèle de prise de décision basé sur les buts sociaux et situationnels de l’agent. Pour finir, nous avons réalisé une étude perceptive dans un contexte d’interaction tuteur/enfant virtuels au cours de laquelle les participants évaluaient l’attitude sociale du tuteur envers l’enfant. La relation sociale et le rôle social du tuteur étaient manipulés par notre modèle. Les résultats montrent qu’à la fois le rôle et la relation du tuteur ont une influence sur son attitude sociale perçue.
... We argue that the strength and even the occurrence of emotional mimicry depends on the perception of the emotion expression as serving an affiliative goal. Some emotion expressions intrinsically convey the affiliative intent of the expresser (Hess et al., 2000;Knutson, 1996), such as smiling. As a consequence, we preferentially mimic smiles, because they signal affiliative intentions. ...
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 developments in emotional mimicry research and specifically discuss new developments regarding the role of emotional mimicry in actual interactions and relationships, and individual differences in emotional mimicry. We conclude with open questions for future research.
... intentions by regulating spatial distances around us (Knutson, 1996;Ruggiero et al., 2017). ...
Thesis
Full-text available
Même si nous percevons l'espace qui nous entoure comme un continuum cartésien, la région de l'espace près du corps où se déroulent les interactions physiques avec l'environnement est une région spéciale, appelée espace péri-personnel (EPP). L’EPP a d'abord été défini sur la base des propriétés de neurones enregistrés chez le singe dans des régions cérébrales prémotrices et pariétales spécifiques. Plus récemment, un réseau homologue putatif a été identifié chez l'homme en utilisant l’IRMf. La représentation de cet espace ne fait pas référence à une région bien délimitée avec des frontières claires mais est au contraire flexible, nous permettant d'adapter notre comportement en fonction du contexte. En particulier, le monde des hommes et des singes est avant tout un monde social. Dans ce monde social, une zone de confort est nécessaire pour réguler la distance entre soi et les autres et ainsi éviter l'inconfort, voire l'anxiété. Cependant, on sait encore peu de choses sur cette dimension sociale de l’EPP comparé à celle liée aux objets. Dans ce contexte, mon travail de thèse visait d'abord à combler le fossé entre les propriétés enregistrées dans les neurones individuels du singe et les activités cérébrales identifiées en neuroimagerie du réseau prémoteur-pariétal humain. Deuxièmement, il visait à apporter un nouvel éclairage sur la dimension sociale de l’EPP, un sujet qui a été largement négligé jusqu'à présent alors qu'il est de la plus haute importance pour tous les animaux. Pour répondre à ces questions, j'ai développé des protocoles utilisant un environnement de réalité virtuelle (RV) permettant une manipulation et un contrôle très précis des informations visuelles à différentes distances de notre corps. Pour réaliser mon premier objectif, j’ai utilisé des procédures expérimentales similaires chez l'homme et le singe afin de comparer l'activité cérébrale en IRMf. À travers deux tâches, où des objets réels ou virtuels étaient présentés à différentes distances (proche et éloignée) du corps, j'ai identifié un réseau prémoteur-pariétal homologue sous-jacent à la représentation de l’EPP chez les deux espèces. Pour réaliser mon deuxième objectif, j'ai utilisé une approche multi-échelle. Plus précisément, mon objectif était de comprendre comment les informations sociales (expressions faciales émotionnelles) dans notre EPP affectent nos capacités de perception, notre état physiologique, et notre activité cérébrale. Au niveau comportemental, mes résultats ont montré que nos capacités de discrimination visuelle étaient améliorées lorsque les visages émotionnels étaient présentés dans l’EPP par rapport à l'espace lointain, même lorsque la taille rétinienne était similaire pour les images proches et lointaines. Cette amélioration des capacités perceptives s'accompagnait d'une augmentation de la fréquence cardiaque lorsque les visages émotionnels étaient proches du corps. Enfin, au niveau neuronal, j'ai identifié un réseau occipito-prémoteur-pariétal avec une activité accrue en présence de visages émotionnels proches par rapport aux visages lointains. Mes résultats montrent également qu'un réseau commun code de manière similaire des stimuli sociaux et non sociaux dans l’EPP. Parallèlement à ce travail réalisé chez des volontaires sains, j'ai également établi un lien direct entre des lésions unilatérales médio-temporales et un déficit dans la régulation appropriée des distances sociales. En résumé, mes résultats démontrent que la présence sociale dans l’EPP facilite nos performances comportementales, augmente notre niveau de vigilance et recrute un réseau neuronal prémoteur-pariétal central quelque soit le type d’information (sociale ou non sociale). Ainsi, un réseau neuronal commun permettrait une réponse rapide, qui pourrait être principalement recruté dans n’importe quelle situation se produisant dans notre EPP, et des régions cérébrales supplémentaires pourraient entrer en jeu afin d’affiner notre comportement en fonction du contexte.
... Indeed, scholars have argued that dominance (power) is a third dimension that distinguishes among high arousal negative states, most notably anger and fear (Figure 1, right;Mehrabian & Russell, 1977;Russell, 1978). Along these lines, previous research has shown that dominant emotions such as anger and contempt are associated with approach behaviors, whereas submissive emotions such as fear, shame, and guilt are associated with avoidance or withdrawal behaviors (Aguinis et al., 1998;Anderson & Berdahl, 2002;Hess et al., 2000;Keltner et al., 2003;Knutson, 1996;Tiedens, 2001). Thus, while valuing HAN may increase the likelihood of harmful action, individuals who value dominant high arousal negative states (HAN-Dom) more may act to overcome perceived threats, whereas individuals who value submissive high arousal negative states (HAN-Sub) may act to avoid perceived threats. ...
Article
Full-text available
Previous research demonstrates that the more people experience anger, fear, and other high arousal negative states (HAN) on average, the more prejudice and harm they express toward outgroups. Here we demonstrate that valuing HAN-above and beyond actually experiencing HAN-increases people's likelihood of engaging in harm toward cultural outgroups in everyday life. In Study 1, U.S. European Americans (N = 227) read hypothetical scenarios in which a member of another cultural group at school, work, or home made them uncomfortable. As predicted, the more participants ideally wanted to feel HAN, the more negatively they responded to the outgroup member in these scenarios (i.e., the more HAN they felt, the more they viewed harmful actions as appropriate, and the more likely they were to engage in these actions). To assess generalizability, in Study 2, we provide evidence from Canada (n = 162) and Taiwan (n = 170) that despite cultural differences in the valuation of specific types of HAN, wanting to feel HAN still predicted negative responses toward cultural outgroups in both cultures. These findings raise the intriguing possibility that reducing people's valuation of HAN might play an important role in increasing tolerance of cultural diversity in multicultural societies. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2022 APA, all rights reserved).
... These studies found that happy expressions generally invite agreeable-dominant responses and anger expressions primarily invite quarrelsomeness. While neither study examined responses to facial expressions of disgust, these might also invite quarrelsomeness: Within the interpersonal circumplex, trait inference ratings for disgust and anger expressions have previously been reported to be comparable [18]. Nonetheless, as mentioned before, the responses invited by expressions of disgust might be more pronounced than those invited by expressions of anger. ...
Article
Full-text available
Background and objectives Facial expression recognition has been studied extensively, including in relation to social anxiety. Nonetheless, a limited number of studies examined recognition of disgust expressions. Results suggest that disgust is perceived as more threatening than anger, and thus may invite more extreme responses. However, few studies have examined responses to facial expressions. These studies have focused on approach-avoidance responses. Our primary aim was to examine to what extent anger and disgust expressions might invite interpersonal responses in terms of quarrelsomeness-agreeableness and dominance-submissiveness. As social anxiety has been previously associated with a heightened sensitivity to anger and disgust expressions, as well as with alterations in quarrelsomeness-agreeableness and dominance-submissiveness, our secondary aim was to examine whether social anxiety would moderate these responses. Methods Participants were 55 women and 43 men who completed social anxiety measures, including the Brief Fear of Negative Evaluation scale, and two tasks that involved “targets” expressing anger, disgust, or happiness at 0%, 50%, or 100%. Participants first indicated how quarrelsome or agreeable and how dominant or submissive they would be towards each target, and then how much they would avoid or approach each target. Results While 100% disgust and anger expressions invited similar levels of quarrelsomeness and avoidance, 50% disgust invited more quarrelsomeness and stronger avoidance than 50% anger. While these patterns were not meaningfully moderated by social anxiety, individuals with higher BFNE scores showed a relatively strong approach of happy faces. Limitations Actual interpersonal behaviour in response to facial expressions was not assessed. Conclusions Findings support the relevance of disgust as an interpersonal signal and suggest that, especially at mild intensity, disgust may have a stronger impact than anger on people’s quarrelsomeness and avoidance responses. Findings provided no support for the view that people with social anxiety would be particularly responsive to disgust (or anger) expressions.
... In terms of facial demeanor, findings indicate that when scientists are in GIFs interacting with high precision instruments, they are likely to be found with a serious expression. Although there is nothing intrinsically negative about a serious face, smiling faces are deemed as more likable than frowning or serious faces (Knutson, 1996). For example, Jarreau et al. (2019) found that selfies of smiling scientists showcasing their scientific work were more likely to be perceived as warmer albeit less intelligent (Krys et al., 2016). ...
Article
Memes within animated graphical interchange formats (GIFs) are developed and shared by Internet users to communicate cultural ideas, symbols, or practices for a wide global audience. Among the billions of GIFs shared internationally, some portray scientists engaged in scientific work. Media and science education scholarship alike have evidenced how scientists are portrayed can influence social perceptions of science and contribute to stereotypes that deter youth’s interest in and affinity to science and science occupations. To understand what social perceptions of science may manifest from new media (GIFs), the present study ascertained stereotypes using Warmth and Competence constructs from Fiske’s Stereotype Content Model (SCM). The SCM utilizes high, medium, and low warmth and competence dimensions found in media-based imagery to illuminate stereotypes. Researchers coded and categorised 287 meme-based GIFs of scientists sourced the largest online GIF repository, Giphy. A directed qualitative content analysis found high-competence and low-warmth dimensions most represented within the sample that theoretically (per SCM) represent perceptions that contribute to an envious stereotype with elements of admiration and contempt. This study suggests that although there have been improvements in the portrayals of scientists in media, however, GIFs may preserve and perpetuate the trope of the competent, yet cold, scientist.
... In Study 2, participants evaluated ingroup expressions of happiness and fear as more genuine than the same outgroup expressions, corroborating previous findings documenting increased trust for the ingroup Fig. 2 Study 2: Mean genuineness ratings of the facial displays as a function of emotion expression, group membership, and cooperation goal (Study 2) (Brewer, 1999;Dovidio et al., 2008). Both happiness (Knutson, 1996) and fear (Schachter, 1959) are affiliative expressions. Assuming that people prefer to affiliate with ingroup members, they can be expected to be more open to affiliative signals from the ingroup. ...
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 membership on facial mimicry and perceived genuineness are moderated by the presence of tears (Study 1) and the motivation to cooperate (Study 2). Results from both studies revealed group-specific biases in facial mimicry and judgments of genuineness. However, introducing cooperative goals abolished differences in judgments of genuineness of facial expressions displayed by ingroup and outgroup members. Together, the findings provide insights into how intergroup biases in emotion perception operate and how they can be reduced by introducing cooperative goals.
Article
Children as young as 3 years can make trait attributions based on behavioral and emotional cues, but such skills continue to develop across childhood. Theory of mind understanding, the ability to attribute mental states to oneself and others, may provide a foundation for early development of trait attributions. The purpose of the current study was to explore the impact of behavioral and affective cues on children’s trait attributions, if their attributes changed incrementally across five repeated instances of an observed behavior, and to what extent such patterns of attributions are related to false belief, a key concept of theory of mind. A total of 115 3- to 5-year-olds completed theory of mind tasks and two trait attribution tasks with affect and the nature of behavior (helpful/unhelpful) varied. Use of a quantitative histogram enabled identification of subtle changes in attributions across episodes. Results indicated that preschool-aged children rated characters as less likable with repeated instances of unhelpful behavior, with meaningful changes occurring after a second case of behavior. The 5-year-olds were more sensitive to differences in helpfulness than the other two age groups. In addition, the 4-year-olds rated smiling helpful characters more positively across time, suggesting a potential impact of emotional cues. Moreover, false belief was related to, yet did not account for, children’s attributions. Factors affecting young children’s formation of trait attributions are discussed.
Article
Full-text available
Using reaction-time measures, research on the relationship between childhood maltreatment and biased attention to emotional stimuli in adults has obtained inconsistent results. To help clarify this issue, we conducted an eye-tracking study on the link between childhood maltreatment and allocation of attention to facial emotions analyzing gaze behavior in addition to manual reactions. In contrast to prior investigations, we excluded individuals with tendencies to minimize maltreatment experiences from analyses. Gaze behavior and manual response time of 58 healthy women were examined in a dot-probe task in which pairs of emotional (happy, sad, or disgusted) and neutral faces were presented. In our analyses, participants’ affectivity, level of alexithymia, and intelligence were controlled. Entry time and dwell time on facial expressions were used as indicators of attention allocation. Childhood maltreatment showed no effect on response latencies but was associated with shorter entry times on emotional faces and shorter dwell time on disgusted faces. Experiences of childhood maltreatment seem to be linked to an increased early vigilance to emotional social signals and to an attentional avoidance of hostile facial expressions at a later stage of perception. The present results suggest a vigilance-avoidance pattern of attention allocation associated with childhood maltreatment.
Chapter
I have selected four different fields that seem interesting to me because they are repeatedly mentioned in the course of mediation but have not yet been researched in this context (commitment and empowerment and criticism). These interventions emanate from the mediator and clearly influence the process. I would also like to take a look at two very common emotions in mediations: anger and confidence. Here, the mediator is not the one who triggers the emotions. He is, however, the one who has the task of helping the mediants to have a good dialogue and reach a self-determined solution by leading the conversation. When anger arises, the discussion situation changes fundamentally. The mediator should be aware of the patterns and reactions that occur and the manipulative effect that strong emotions have on the other party.
Article
Full-text available
Eyebrow and mouth gestures, identified from nonhuman primate studies as potential human dominance gestures. were tested in a series of cross-cultural ex-periments. Pairs of human portrait photographs were shown to observers in 11 national/cultural settings. Some observers selected dominant-looking members from each pair, and others selected happier-looking members. When posed with lowered brows or nonsmiling mouths. portrait models were expected to look more dominant than when posed with raised brows or smiles, respectively. Models were expected to look happier when smiling than when not smiling. Results strongly supported a universal association between smiles and happiness and weakly sup- ported a universal nonsmiling/dominance association but restricted a lowered- brow/dorninance association to relatively more Westernized samples.
Article
Full-text available
Differing positions of the eyebrows play a role in nonhuman primate displays of status (dominance and submission). Mazur and Stevens (1975) suggest that similar eyebrow gestures convey information about social status among humans, and this hypothesis was tested in the present experiment. We predicted that human models would be made to look more dominant by photographing them with lowered as compared to raised brows. College student observers were shown such portrait photographs of male and female models from various racial backgrounds and asked to judge dominance. Observers perceived each of twelve models as dominant significantly more often when models posed with lowered eyebrows than when they posed with raised eyebrows. Brows were more expressive of dominance than mouth gestures, which served as "controls." Results of status judgments made on cartoon face stimuli were consistent with those based on the photographs.
Conference Paper
The validity of social perceptions was assessed on the basis of facial or vocal information. Specifically, impressions of stimulus persons' power and warmth were obtained on the basis of either a facial photograph or a voice recording. These were compared with the stimulus persons' self-reports along the same dimensions. Face- and voice-based impressions did predict self-view. The specific facial and vocal characteristics that mediated these links were also considered. Potential mechanisms that may yield the match between self-perceptions and impressions based on nonverbal cues are discussed. As people navigate their way through their social environment, a wealth of information is continually made available to them. During the past two decades, research in the area of person perception has mainly been focused on describing the kinds of errors that people are inclined to make whdn processing social information, as well as elucidating the causal mechanisms that yield those biases. In the rush to identify the conditions under which people may be wrong, however, psychologists seem to have forgotten that social perceivers also do, at least on occasion, manage to get things right. In fact, some researchers have suggested that when allowed to function in an environment more naturalistic than that characteristic of the typical person perception experiment, social perceivers are much more competent than the literature would lead one to expect (e.g., Berry, 1990a; Funder, 1987; McArthur & Baron, 1983). Within some domains of social perception, there has recently been a refreshing shift toward investigating the extent to which social perceivers are accurate in their judgments. One line of this work focuses on people's ability to detect the dispositional properties of others in lieu of extensive behavioral information. For example, Kenny and his associates (Albright, Kenny, & Malloy, 1988; Kenny, Horner, Kashy, & Chu, 1990) asked previously unacquainted college students to make "in person" ratings of one another's personality traits. Participants were found to demonstrate substantial agreement in their judgments of a particular target person's traits. Moreover, the impressions formed in these first encounters predicted self-ratings along a variety of dimensions. Using a similar methodology, Watson (1989) also found associations between self- and stranger ratings. Funder and Colvin (1988) reported greater than chance