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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 3. Ratings of the neutral expressions at the end of the video-sequences in the Control and Loop conditions.Error bars indicate ±1SD.
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pone-0056003-g006: Results of Experiment 3. Ratings of the neutral expressions at the end of the video-sequences in the Control and Loop conditions.Error bars indicate ±1SD.

Mentions: The 2×2 ANOVA with Condition (No loop vs. loop) and Perceptual history (Joy-to-neutral vs. Anger-to-neutral) as the within-subjects factors showed no significant main effects for Condition (F(1,23) = .35, p = .56, ηp2 = .015) and Perceptual history (F(1,23) = .24, p = .88, ηp2 = .001), but a highly significant Condition by Perceptual history interaction (F(1,23) = 21.4, p<.0001, ηp2 = .48; Figure 6). In the control (No loop) condition, the typical overshoot effect was found; the mean ratings of the neutral faces was 2.79 in the Joy-to-neutral and 3.20 in the Anger-to-neutral sequences, which differed significantly from each other (t(23) = 4.18, p<.0001). In the Loop condition the reversed pattern emerged: the neutral expression at the end of the Neutral-to-joy-to-neutral video was evaluated as slightly happy (M = 3.24, SD = 0.53), and at the end of the Neutral-to-anger-to-neutral videos as slightly angry (M = 2.80, SD = 0.47). These evaluations differed significantly from each other (t(23) = 2.60, p = .016) and each differed significantly from 3.00 (Neutral-joy-neutral: (t(23) = 2.50, p = .020); Neutral-anger-neutral (t(23) = −2.16, p<.041; two tailed). The reversal of the response bias (“undershoot” bias) was consistently found across actors.


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

Palumbo L, Jellema T - PLoS ONE (2013)

Results of Experiment 3. Ratings of the neutral expressions at the end of the video-sequences in the Control and Loop conditions.Error bars indicate ±1SD.
© Copyright Policy
Related In: Results  -  Collection

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

pone-0056003-g006: Results of Experiment 3. Ratings of the neutral expressions at the end of the video-sequences in the Control and Loop conditions.Error bars indicate ±1SD.
Mentions: The 2×2 ANOVA with Condition (No loop vs. loop) and Perceptual history (Joy-to-neutral vs. Anger-to-neutral) as the within-subjects factors showed no significant main effects for Condition (F(1,23) = .35, p = .56, ηp2 = .015) and Perceptual history (F(1,23) = .24, p = .88, ηp2 = .001), but a highly significant Condition by Perceptual history interaction (F(1,23) = 21.4, p<.0001, ηp2 = .48; Figure 6). In the control (No loop) condition, the typical overshoot effect was found; the mean ratings of the neutral faces was 2.79 in the Joy-to-neutral and 3.20 in the Anger-to-neutral sequences, which differed significantly from each other (t(23) = 4.18, p<.0001). In the Loop condition the reversed pattern emerged: the neutral expression at the end of the Neutral-to-joy-to-neutral video was evaluated as slightly happy (M = 3.24, SD = 0.53), and at the end of the Neutral-to-anger-to-neutral videos as slightly angry (M = 2.80, SD = 0.47). These evaluations differed significantly from each other (t(23) = 2.60, p = .016) and each differed significantly from 3.00 (Neutral-joy-neutral: (t(23) = 2.50, p = .020); Neutral-anger-neutral (t(23) = −2.16, p<.041; two tailed). The reversal of the response bias (“undershoot” bias) was consistently found across actors.

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