Sequential Patterning of Facial Actions in the Production and Perception of Emotional Expressions

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Despite the fact that the facial expressions of emotions are naturally dynamic social signals, their communicative value has typically been studied using static photographs. In this paper, we focus on the perception of emotions from naturally occurring, dynamic facial displays produced in social interactions. In describing their impressions of 200 video records of spontaneous emotional expressions produced during a face-to-face emotional sharing task, observers were found to agree on five emotional factors: enjoyment, hostility, embarrassment, surprise, and sadness. FACS coding and sequential analysis using a pattern detection algorithm showed that recordings rated high on one emotional factor were characterized by unique sequences of facial actions coordinated with eye and/or gaze actions. Our results suggest that the dynamic unfolding of facial displays and their combination with additional nonverbal signals may play an important and still under-investigated role in emotion perception in face-to-face interactions.

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