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  Emotional reactions while viewing emotional expressive faces: quality, quantity, time course and gender differences

Wild, B., Erb, M., & Bartels, M. (1999). Emotional reactions while viewing emotional expressive faces: quality, quantity, time course and gender differences. Poster presented at 2. Tübinger Wahrnehmungskonferenz (TWK 1999), Tübingen, Germany.

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Wild, B, Author
Erb, M1, Author              
Bartels, M, Author
1External Organizations, ou_persistent22              


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 Abstract: Emotional reactions can be described as a combination of three components: 1. autonomic, 2. behavioral/expressive and 3. cognitive/experiential. The goal of this study was to characterize the experiential aspect in detail using emotional reactions to faces displaying emotional expressions. A detailed knowledge about emotional reactions to faces is necessary, e.g. for functional imaging studies (fMRI or PET) using faces as visual stimuli and for use in the analysis of communication deficits in psychiatric patients. This study explored the effects of the following factors: 1. variations of displayed facial affect in quality (happy vs. sad) and 2. quantity or strength of expressed emotion, 3. presentation duration (0.5-10sec), 4. repeated presentations and 5. gender of viewer and pictured face. 20 photographs each of happy and sad faces (black-and-white, only face visible, randomised order, strength of facially expressed emotion varying) were presented to 15 healthy volunteers on a PC-screen. Presentation duration and repetition rate were tested in two seperate experiments with 10 subjects each. Instruction was to look at the photograph like one would when seeing the subject in a socially neutral context, e.g. on a bus. Immediately afterwards the subjects evaluated the induced emotions by marking continous scales for happiness, sadness, disgust, anger, surprise, fear and insecurity which were presented on the PC-screen. Happy faces significantly evoked more happiness and were perceived as more pleasant than sad faces which highly significantly evoked more sadness. Anger, fear and insecurity were also more present during the presentation of sad faces but in absolute terms much less than sadness. The gender effects were generally much smaller than the effects of depicted emotion. Significance (p<0.01) was reached for the following: Female subjects significantly experienced more disgust and fear overall and perceived happy faces as more pleasant and sad faces as more unpleasant than males. Pictures of females were judged as more pleasant and evoked more happiness and sadness and less disgust and fear than pictures of males. There was no significant effect of the strength of the facially expressed emotion and of the duration of picture presentation. Repeated presentation had a significant effect on surprise which decreased. Emotions when perceiving an emotionally expressive face are specific and correspond to the displayed facial expressions. Perception of happy faces induced happy feelings and sad faces sadness even within 500ms and with few gender differences. This supports the hypothesis that the emotional content of facial expressions is decoded non-verbally by evoking similar emotions in the observer in fast and probably biologically predetermined neuronal systems.


 Dates: 1999-02
 Publication Status: Published in print
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Title: 2. Tübinger Wahrnehmungskonferenz (TWK 1999)
Place of Event: Tübingen, Germany
Start-/End Date: 1999-02-26 - 1999-02-28

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Title: Beiträge zur 2. Tübinger Wahrnehmungskonferenz
Source Genre: Proceedings
Bülthoff, HH1, Editor            
Fahle, M, Editor            
Gegenfurtner, KR1, Editor            
Mallot, HA1, Editor            
1 Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics, Max Planck Society, ou_1497794            
Publ. Info: Kirchentellinsfurt, Germany : Knirsch
Pages: - Volume / Issue: - Sequence Number: - Start / End Page: 44 Identifier: ISBN: 3-927091-45-6