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Communication of individual emotions by spontaneous facial expressions

Wagner, Hugh L., MacDonald, Christopher J. and Manstead, Antony Stephen Reid 1986. Communication of individual emotions by spontaneous facial expressions. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 50 (4) , pp. 737-743. 10.1037/0022-3514.50.4.737

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Examined whether spontaneous facial expressions provide observers with sufficient information to distinguish accurately which of 7 affective states (6 emotional and 1 neutral) is being experienced by another person. Six undergraduate senders' facial expressions were covertly videotaped as they watched emotionally loaded slides. After each slide, senders nominated the emotions term that best described their affective reaction and also rated the pleasantness and strength of that reaction. Similar nominations of emotion terms and ratings were later made by 53 undergraduate receivers who viewed the senders' videotaped facial expression. The central measure of communication accuracy was the match between senders' and receivers' emotion nominations. Overall accuracy was significantly greater than chance, although it was not impressive in absolute terms. Only happy, angry, and disgusted expressions were recognized at above-chance rates, whereas surprised expressions were recognized at rates that were significantly worse than chance. Female Ss were significantly better senders than were male Ss. Although neither sex was found to be better at receiving facial expressions, female Ss were better receivers of female senders' expressions than of male senders' expressions. Female senders' neutral and surprised expressions were more accurately recognized than were those of male senders. The only sex difference found for decoding emotions was a tendency for male Ss to be more accurate at recognizing anger. (25 ref)

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Psychology
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Publisher: American Psychological Association
Last Modified: 04 Jun 2017 04:47

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