University of Cambridge > Talks.cam > Social Psychology Seminar Series (SPSS) > Inside-out: How emotions are perceived in the face

Inside-out: How emotions are perceived in the face

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If you have a question about this talk, please contact Elisa Militaru.

The vast majority of research into the nonverbal communication of emotions focuses on prototypical expressive patterns, often deliberately posed by actors upon instructions by the researcher. In terms of the displayed emotions, the criterion for usage typically is clearly and easily recognizable expressions. In this talk, I would like to argue that the emotional clarity and prototypicality of facial displays is not sufficient to capture the complexities and subtleties of human emotion perception. Based on a number of studies I show that perceivers go beyond what is directly observable and make inferences about the underlying states, intentions, and qualities of others. These concern attributes of the stimulus target, i.e. the type of facial expression and the presence of situational cues. As such, the same facial expression is interpreted differently depending on its temporal or contextual shaping. Furthermore, attributes of the perceiver such as experiential and motivational factors impact the meaning of facial expressions. This can be seen in situations when facial mimicry is experimentally inhibited, thereby leading to stronger reliance on conceptual and often stereotypical knowledge in emotion interpretation. The findings will be discussed building on a range of techniques (i.e., facial EMG , eye tracking, binocular rivalry), with the goal to elucidate the social and emotional meaning of facial expressions.

Dr Eva Krumhuber is an assistant professor in the Department of Experimental Psychology at University College London. Her research investigates the social psychological aspects of face perception and various factors that moderate people’s judgments. Eva obtained her PhD degree in social psychology at Cardiff University for which she won the Hadyn Ellis Prize for Outstanding Dissertation. Subsequent postdoctoral work in Switzerland and Germany led to the development of new animation software for an award-winning market research project, as well as technological applications to aid cultural understanding and empathy in children and young adults. Besides her contributions to psychology, her research has proven relevant in industry for the successful modelling of emotions in virtual characters, also being commercially used by the film and video games industry. Eva has published widely within the field of psychology and computer science, and currently serves as an Associate Editor of the Journal of Nonverbal Behavior, and Frontiers in Psychology: Personality and Social Psychology.

This talk is part of the Social Psychology Seminar Series (SPSS) series.

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