The role of facial response in the experience of emotion

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Abstract

Facial expression and emotional stimuli were varied orthogonally in a 3 × 4 factorial design to test whether facial expression is necessary or sufficient to influence emotional experience. 123 undergraduates watched a film eliciting fear, sadness, or no emotion while holding their facial muscles in the position characteristic of fear or sadness or in an effortful but nonemotional grimace; those in a 4th group received no facial instructions. The Ss believed that the study concerned subliminal perception and that the facial positions were necessary to prevent physiological recording artifacts. The films had powerful effects on reported emotions, the facial expressions none. Correlations between facial expression and reported emotion were zero. Sad and fearful Ss showed distinctive patterns of physiological arousal. Facial expression also tended to affect physiological responses in a manner consistent with an effort hypothesis. (33 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved)

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