When Facial Expressions Do and Do Not Signal Minds: The Role of Face Inversion, Expression Dynamism, and Emotion Type

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Abstract

Recent research has linked facial expressions to mind perception. Specifically, Bowling and Banissy (2017) found that ambiguous doll-human morphs were judged as more likely to have a mind when smiling. Herein, we investigate 3 key potential boundary conditions of this “expression-to-mind” effect. First, we demonstrate that face inversion impairs the ability of happy expressions to signal mindful states in static faces; however, inversion does not disrupt this effect for dynamic displays of emotion. Finally, we demonstrate that not all emotions have equivalent effects. Whereas happy faces generate more mind ascription compared to neutral faces, we find that expressions of disgust actually generate less mind ascription than those of happiness.

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