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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 2.(A) Instant identity-change. Scores for the neutral expressions at the end of the joy-to-neutral and anger-to-neutral sequences in the same-identity and instant identity-change conditions. (B) Smooth identity-change. Same as in (A) but for the smooth identity-change condition. Error bars indicate ±1SD. (C) Ratings for each of the eight actors in the smooth identity-change condition to illustrate the response consistency across actors.
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pone-0056003-g004: Results of Experiment 2.(A) Instant identity-change. Scores for the neutral expressions at the end of the joy-to-neutral and anger-to-neutral sequences in the same-identity and instant identity-change conditions. (B) Smooth identity-change. Same as in (A) but for the smooth identity-change condition. Error bars indicate ±1SD. (C) Ratings for each of the eight actors in the smooth identity-change condition to illustrate the response consistency across actors.

Mentions: A 2×2 ANOVA, similar to the one performed for the Instant identity-change experiment, showed a main effect of Perceptual history (F(1,19) = 75.3, p<.001, ηp2 = .78) and no significant main effect of Identity change (F(1,19) = .25, p = .62, ηp2 = .013). The interaction factor was highly significant (F(1,19) = 33.9, p<.001, ηp2 = .46). In the same-identity condition the perceptual histories again differed significantly from each other (t(20) = −8.68, p<.001) and from 3.00 (p’s <.01). In the smooth identity-change condition, even though the mean ratings for the neutral expression in the joy and anger-videos overlapped considerably (Figure 4C), the ratings in two perceptual histories did differ significantly from each other t(19) = −4.21, p<.001). However, neither perceptual history differed from 3.00 (Joy, t(19) = −1.5, p = .15; Anger, t(19) = .72, p = .48).


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

Palumbo L, Jellema T - PLoS ONE (2013)

Results of Experiment 2.(A) Instant identity-change. Scores for the neutral expressions at the end of the joy-to-neutral and anger-to-neutral sequences in the same-identity and instant identity-change conditions. (B) Smooth identity-change. Same as in (A) but for the smooth identity-change condition. Error bars indicate ±1SD. (C) Ratings for each of the eight actors in the smooth identity-change condition to illustrate the response consistency across actors.
© Copyright Policy
Related In: Results  -  Collection

Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC3569428&req=5

pone-0056003-g004: Results of Experiment 2.(A) Instant identity-change. Scores for the neutral expressions at the end of the joy-to-neutral and anger-to-neutral sequences in the same-identity and instant identity-change conditions. (B) Smooth identity-change. Same as in (A) but for the smooth identity-change condition. Error bars indicate ±1SD. (C) Ratings for each of the eight actors in the smooth identity-change condition to illustrate the response consistency across actors.
Mentions: A 2×2 ANOVA, similar to the one performed for the Instant identity-change experiment, showed a main effect of Perceptual history (F(1,19) = 75.3, p<.001, ηp2 = .78) and no significant main effect of Identity change (F(1,19) = .25, p = .62, ηp2 = .013). The interaction factor was highly significant (F(1,19) = 33.9, p<.001, ηp2 = .46). In the same-identity condition the perceptual histories again differed significantly from each other (t(20) = −8.68, p<.001) and from 3.00 (p’s <.01). In the smooth identity-change condition, even though the mean ratings for the neutral expression in the joy and anger-videos overlapped considerably (Figure 4C), the ratings in two perceptual histories did differ significantly from each other t(19) = −4.21, p<.001). However, neither perceptual history differed from 3.00 (Joy, t(19) = −1.5, p = .15; Anger, t(19) = .72, p = .48).

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