Reading Chimpanzee Faces: Evidence for the Role of Verbal Labels in Categorical Perception of Emotion

Department of Psychology, Boston College, Chestnut Hill, MA 02467, USA.
Emotion (Impact Factor: 3.88). 08/2010; 10(4):544-54. DOI: 10.1037/a0019017
Source: PubMed


Categorical perception (CP) occurs when continuously varying stimuli are perceived as belonging to discrete categories. Thereby, perceivers are more accurate at discriminating between stimuli of different categories than between stimuli within the same category (Harnad, 1987; Goldstone, 1994). The current experiments investigated whether the structural information in the face is sufficient for CP to occur. Alternatively, a perceiver's conceptual knowledge, by virtue of expertise or verbal labeling, might contribute. In two experiments, people who differed in their conceptual knowledge (in the form of expertise, Experiment 1; or verbal label learning, Experiment 2) categorized chimpanzee facial expressions. Expertise alone did not facilitate CP. Only when perceivers first explicitly learned facial expression categories with a label were they more likely to show CP. Overall, the results suggest that the structural information in the face alone is often insufficient for CP; CP is facilitated by verbal labeling.

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    • "out the feelings , situations , behaviors , and bodily changes that accom - pany the emotion categories encoded by their acquired language . However , one study addressed the role of language in the per - ception of emotion in a category - learning task involving novel Chimpanzee affective facial actions that were unfamiliar to most participants ( Fugate et al . , 2010 ) . In the first phase of the exper - iment adults simply viewed pictures of unfamiliar Chimpanzee facial actions ( e . g . , a " bared teeth " or " scream " face ) or viewed the faces while learning to associate them with nonsense words . Participants were later shown two images taken from a contin - uous morphed array of two facial ex"
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