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Beyond face value: does involuntary emotional anticipation shape the perception of dynamic facial expressions?

Palumbo L, Jellema T - PLoS ONE (2013)

Bottom Line: Recently it has been shown that early stages of social perception can already be influenced by (implicit) attributions made by the observer about the agent's mental state and intentions.Neutral facial expressions displayed at the end of short video-clips, in which an initial facial expression of joy or anger gradually morphed into a neutral expression, were misjudged as being slightly angry or slightly happy, respectively (Experiment 1).Underpinning neural mechanisms are discussed in relation to the current debate on action and emotion understanding.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Department of Psychology, University of Hull, Hull, United Kingdom.

ABSTRACT
Emotional facial expressions are immediate indicators of the affective dispositions of others. Recently it has been shown that early stages of social perception can already be influenced by (implicit) attributions made by the observer about the agent's mental state and intentions. In the current study possible mechanisms underpinning distortions in the perception of dynamic, ecologically-valid, facial expressions were explored. In four experiments we examined to what extent basic perceptual processes such as contrast/context effects, adaptation and representational momentum underpinned the perceptual distortions, and to what extent 'emotional anticipation', i.e. the involuntary anticipation of the other's emotional state of mind on the basis of the immediate perceptual history, might have played a role. Neutral facial expressions displayed at the end of short video-clips, in which an initial facial expression of joy or anger gradually morphed into a neutral expression, were misjudged as being slightly angry or slightly happy, respectively (Experiment 1). This response bias disappeared when the actor's identity changed in the final neutral expression (Experiment 2). Videos depicting neutral-to-joy-to-neutral and neutral-to-anger-to-neutral sequences again produced biases but in opposite direction (Experiment 3). The bias survived insertion of a 400 ms blank (Experiment 4). These results suggested that the perceptual distortions were not caused by any of the low-level perceptual mechanisms (adaptation, representational momentum and contrast effects). We speculate that especially when presented with dynamic, facial expressions, perceptual distortions occur that reflect 'emotional anticipation' (a low-level mindreading mechanism), which overrules low-level visual mechanisms. Underpinning neural mechanisms are discussed in relation to the current debate on action and emotion understanding.

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Related in: MedlinePlus

Results of Experiment 1.(A) Ratings on the 5-point scale (y-axis) for the neutral expressions of the eight actors (x-axis) in the calibration phase. Error bars indicate +1SD. (B) Ratings on the same scale for the expressions depicted on the last frame of the joy-to-‘neutral’ and anger-to-‘neutral’ videos. The sequences ended at 10% anger, neutral or 10% joy (x-axis). Error bars indicate 1SD. (C) Ratings for exclusively the neutral expressions at the end of the joy- and anger-videos for each of the eight actors to illustrate response consistency across actors.
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pone-0056003-g002: Results of Experiment 1.(A) Ratings on the 5-point scale (y-axis) for the neutral expressions of the eight actors (x-axis) in the calibration phase. Error bars indicate +1SD. (B) Ratings on the same scale for the expressions depicted on the last frame of the joy-to-‘neutral’ and anger-to-‘neutral’ videos. The sequences ended at 10% anger, neutral or 10% joy (x-axis). Error bars indicate 1SD. (C) Ratings for exclusively the neutral expressions at the end of the joy- and anger-videos for each of the eight actors to illustrate response consistency across actors.

Mentions: The mean calibration scores for the neutral expression of each actor are shown in Figure 2A. A very similar pattern of calibration scores was obtained across experiments, with the neutral expression of actors C and WF systematically rated as slightly angry. The main results are shown in Figure 2B and C. A 2×3 repeated measures ANOVA with Perceptual history (joy-to-‘neutral’ video vs. anger-to-‘neutral’ video) and Endpoint (10% joy vs. neutral vs. 10% anger) as within-subject factors, showed a robust significant main effect for Perceptual history (F(1,32) = 67.39, p<.0001, ηp2 = .678). The expression in the last frame was perceived as more angry in the joy videos (M = 2.81, SD = 0.34) as compared to the anger videos (M = 3.43, SD = 0.35). There was also a significant main effect for the factor Endpoint (F(2,64) = 58.98, p<.0001, ηp2 = .648), with expressions in the 10% anger endpoint condition evaluated more negatively than those in the neutral endpoint condition (t(32) = −3.32, p = .002), and expressions in the neutral endpoint condition more negatively than those in the 10% joy endpoint condition (t(32) = −8.05, p<.001). The Endpoint by Perceptual history interaction was significant (F(2,64) = 3.77, p = .028, ηp2 = .105). In the neutral endpoint condition, the mean ratings in the joy videos (M = 2.76, SD = .30) and anger videos (M = 3.34, SD = .33) differed significantly from each other (t(32) = −6.45, p<.0001), and each of them differed significantly from 3.00 (joy-video: t(32) = −4.67, p<.001; anger-video: t(32) = 5.94, p<.001; two-tailed). Remarkably, the 10% joy endpoint in the joy-videos was rated as significantly more angry than the 10% anger endpoint in the anger-videos (t(32) = 2.34, p = .025), despite the former expression being 20% more ‘positive’ than the latter.


Beyond face value: does involuntary emotional anticipation shape the perception of dynamic facial expressions?

Palumbo L, Jellema T - PLoS ONE (2013)

Results of Experiment 1.(A) Ratings on the 5-point scale (y-axis) for the neutral expressions of the eight actors (x-axis) in the calibration phase. Error bars indicate +1SD. (B) Ratings on the same scale for the expressions depicted on the last frame of the joy-to-‘neutral’ and anger-to-‘neutral’ videos. The sequences ended at 10% anger, neutral or 10% joy (x-axis). Error bars indicate 1SD. (C) Ratings for exclusively the neutral expressions at the end of the joy- and anger-videos for each of the eight actors to illustrate response consistency across actors.
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Related In: Results  -  Collection

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getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC3569428&req=5

pone-0056003-g002: Results of Experiment 1.(A) Ratings on the 5-point scale (y-axis) for the neutral expressions of the eight actors (x-axis) in the calibration phase. Error bars indicate +1SD. (B) Ratings on the same scale for the expressions depicted on the last frame of the joy-to-‘neutral’ and anger-to-‘neutral’ videos. The sequences ended at 10% anger, neutral or 10% joy (x-axis). Error bars indicate 1SD. (C) Ratings for exclusively the neutral expressions at the end of the joy- and anger-videos for each of the eight actors to illustrate response consistency across actors.
Mentions: The mean calibration scores for the neutral expression of each actor are shown in Figure 2A. A very similar pattern of calibration scores was obtained across experiments, with the neutral expression of actors C and WF systematically rated as slightly angry. The main results are shown in Figure 2B and C. A 2×3 repeated measures ANOVA with Perceptual history (joy-to-‘neutral’ video vs. anger-to-‘neutral’ video) and Endpoint (10% joy vs. neutral vs. 10% anger) as within-subject factors, showed a robust significant main effect for Perceptual history (F(1,32) = 67.39, p<.0001, ηp2 = .678). The expression in the last frame was perceived as more angry in the joy videos (M = 2.81, SD = 0.34) as compared to the anger videos (M = 3.43, SD = 0.35). There was also a significant main effect for the factor Endpoint (F(2,64) = 58.98, p<.0001, ηp2 = .648), with expressions in the 10% anger endpoint condition evaluated more negatively than those in the neutral endpoint condition (t(32) = −3.32, p = .002), and expressions in the neutral endpoint condition more negatively than those in the 10% joy endpoint condition (t(32) = −8.05, p<.001). The Endpoint by Perceptual history interaction was significant (F(2,64) = 3.77, p = .028, ηp2 = .105). In the neutral endpoint condition, the mean ratings in the joy videos (M = 2.76, SD = .30) and anger videos (M = 3.34, SD = .33) differed significantly from each other (t(32) = −6.45, p<.0001), and each of them differed significantly from 3.00 (joy-video: t(32) = −4.67, p<.001; anger-video: t(32) = 5.94, p<.001; two-tailed). Remarkably, the 10% joy endpoint in the joy-videos was rated as significantly more angry than the 10% anger endpoint in the anger-videos (t(32) = 2.34, p = .025), despite the former expression being 20% more ‘positive’ than the latter.

Bottom Line: Recently it has been shown that early stages of social perception can already be influenced by (implicit) attributions made by the observer about the agent's mental state and intentions.Neutral facial expressions displayed at the end of short video-clips, in which an initial facial expression of joy or anger gradually morphed into a neutral expression, were misjudged as being slightly angry or slightly happy, respectively (Experiment 1).Underpinning neural mechanisms are discussed in relation to the current debate on action and emotion understanding.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Department of Psychology, University of Hull, Hull, United Kingdom.

ABSTRACT
Emotional facial expressions are immediate indicators of the affective dispositions of others. Recently it has been shown that early stages of social perception can already be influenced by (implicit) attributions made by the observer about the agent's mental state and intentions. In the current study possible mechanisms underpinning distortions in the perception of dynamic, ecologically-valid, facial expressions were explored. In four experiments we examined to what extent basic perceptual processes such as contrast/context effects, adaptation and representational momentum underpinned the perceptual distortions, and to what extent 'emotional anticipation', i.e. the involuntary anticipation of the other's emotional state of mind on the basis of the immediate perceptual history, might have played a role. Neutral facial expressions displayed at the end of short video-clips, in which an initial facial expression of joy or anger gradually morphed into a neutral expression, were misjudged as being slightly angry or slightly happy, respectively (Experiment 1). This response bias disappeared when the actor's identity changed in the final neutral expression (Experiment 2). Videos depicting neutral-to-joy-to-neutral and neutral-to-anger-to-neutral sequences again produced biases but in opposite direction (Experiment 3). The bias survived insertion of a 400 ms blank (Experiment 4). These results suggested that the perceptual distortions were not caused by any of the low-level perceptual mechanisms (adaptation, representational momentum and contrast effects). We speculate that especially when presented with dynamic, facial expressions, perceptual distortions occur that reflect 'emotional anticipation' (a low-level mindreading mechanism), which overrules low-level visual mechanisms. Underpinning neural mechanisms are discussed in relation to the current debate on action and emotion understanding.

Show MeSH
Related in: MedlinePlus