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Journal Article

Identification of emotional facial expressions in a lab and over the internet


Degé,  Franziska
Department of Music, Max Planck Institute for Empirical Aesthetics, Max Planck Society;

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Vesker, M., Bahn, D., Degé, F., Kauschke, C., & Schwarzer, G. (2019). Identification of emotional facial expressions in a lab and over the internet. Psychology: Journal of the Higher School of Economics, 16(3), 571-583. doi:10.17323/1813-8918-2019-3-571-583.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0005-9364-4
Collecting data over the internet is an approach that allows researchers to vastly expand the possible sample sizes of their studies, and enables the study of populations that may otherwise be difficult to access. However, to ensure that data collected over the internet is of the same level of quality as data collected in a lab, the comparability of internet-collected data with lab-collected data must first be assessed for individual areas of research and experimental approaches. To answer the question of whether internet data collection is suitable for experiments involving facial expressions, we conducted a deliberately difficult facial emotion-identification experiment where participants completed the same task either under supervision in our lab, or at an unsupervised location over the internet. Stimuli consisted of sad faces that participants were asked to identify as resembling either anger, fear, or disgust. Regardless of belonging to either the group tested in the lab or over the internet, participants showed highly similar response distributions, while differences between the groups were non-significant and of very low magnitude. We can therefore conclude from our findings that internet data collection is a viable method for experiments requiring the identification of emotional facial expressions, being able to produce similar results to those which can be obtained in a lab.