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Through a glass darkly: facial wrinkles affect our processing of emotion in the elderly.

Freudenberg M, Adams RB, Kleck RE, Hess U - Front Psychol (2015)

Bottom Line: One reason for this may be decreased signal clarity of older faces due to morphological changes, such as wrinkles and folds, obscuring facial displays of emotions.Thus, we argue that age-related changes in facial features are the most plausible explanation for the differences in emotion perception between young and old faces.These findings are of relevance for the social interchange with the elderly, especially when multiple older individuals are present.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Department of Psychology, Social and Organizational Psychology, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin Berlin, Germany.

ABSTRACT
The correct interpretation of emotional expressions is crucial for social life. However, emotions in old relative to young faces are recognized less well. One reason for this may be decreased signal clarity of older faces due to morphological changes, such as wrinkles and folds, obscuring facial displays of emotions. Across three experiments, the present research investigates how misattributions of emotions to elderly faces impair emotion discrimination. In a preliminary task, neutral expressions were perceived as more expressive in old than in young faces by human raters (Experiment 1A) and an automatic system for emotion recognition (Experiment 1B). Consequently, task difficulty was higher for old faces relative to young faces in a visual search task (Experiment 2). Specifically, participants detected old faces expressing negative emotions less accurately and slower among neutral faces of their peers than young faces among neutral faces of their peers. Thus, we argue that age-related changes in facial features are the most plausible explanation for the differences in emotion perception between young and old faces. These findings are of relevance for the social interchange with the elderly, especially when multiple older individuals are present.

No MeSH data available.


Mean intensity ratings on the emotion scales as a function of face age and sex by human raters.
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Figure 1: Mean intensity ratings on the emotion scales as a function of face age and sex by human raters.

Mentions: As predicted, the analysis revealed a main effect of face age, F(1,44) = 25.56, p < 0.001, = 0.37, such that overall, neutral old faces (M = 0.92, SE = 0.10) were rated as more expressive than neutral young faces (M = 0.77, SE = 0.10). However, this effect was qualified by a significant face age × sex × emotion interaction (see Figure 1), F(4,183) = 13.18, p < 0.001, = 0.23. The main effects of sex and emotion as well as the face age × sex and face age × emotion interactions reached significance, but were also qualified by the three-way interaction [sex: F(1,44) = 12.74, p < 0.001, = 0.23; emotion: F(3,117) = 30.03, p < 0.001, = 0.41, face age × sex: F(1,44) = 9.64, p = 0.003, = 0.18, face age × emotion: F(4,155) = 12.96, p < 0.001, = 0.23].


Through a glass darkly: facial wrinkles affect our processing of emotion in the elderly.

Freudenberg M, Adams RB, Kleck RE, Hess U - Front Psychol (2015)

Mean intensity ratings on the emotion scales as a function of face age and sex by human raters.
© Copyright Policy
Related In: Results  -  Collection

License
Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC4589643&req=5

Figure 1: Mean intensity ratings on the emotion scales as a function of face age and sex by human raters.
Mentions: As predicted, the analysis revealed a main effect of face age, F(1,44) = 25.56, p < 0.001, = 0.37, such that overall, neutral old faces (M = 0.92, SE = 0.10) were rated as more expressive than neutral young faces (M = 0.77, SE = 0.10). However, this effect was qualified by a significant face age × sex × emotion interaction (see Figure 1), F(4,183) = 13.18, p < 0.001, = 0.23. The main effects of sex and emotion as well as the face age × sex and face age × emotion interactions reached significance, but were also qualified by the three-way interaction [sex: F(1,44) = 12.74, p < 0.001, = 0.23; emotion: F(3,117) = 30.03, p < 0.001, = 0.41, face age × sex: F(1,44) = 9.64, p = 0.003, = 0.18, face age × emotion: F(4,155) = 12.96, p < 0.001, = 0.23].

Bottom Line: One reason for this may be decreased signal clarity of older faces due to morphological changes, such as wrinkles and folds, obscuring facial displays of emotions.Thus, we argue that age-related changes in facial features are the most plausible explanation for the differences in emotion perception between young and old faces.These findings are of relevance for the social interchange with the elderly, especially when multiple older individuals are present.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Department of Psychology, Social and Organizational Psychology, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin Berlin, Germany.

ABSTRACT
The correct interpretation of emotional expressions is crucial for social life. However, emotions in old relative to young faces are recognized less well. One reason for this may be decreased signal clarity of older faces due to morphological changes, such as wrinkles and folds, obscuring facial displays of emotions. Across three experiments, the present research investigates how misattributions of emotions to elderly faces impair emotion discrimination. In a preliminary task, neutral expressions were perceived as more expressive in old than in young faces by human raters (Experiment 1A) and an automatic system for emotion recognition (Experiment 1B). Consequently, task difficulty was higher for old faces relative to young faces in a visual search task (Experiment 2). Specifically, participants detected old faces expressing negative emotions less accurately and slower among neutral faces of their peers than young faces among neutral faces of their peers. Thus, we argue that age-related changes in facial features are the most plausible explanation for the differences in emotion perception between young and old faces. These findings are of relevance for the social interchange with the elderly, especially when multiple older individuals are present.

No MeSH data available.