Dynamic facial expressions of emotion transmit an evolving hierarchy of signals over time

Jack, R. E. , Garrod, O. G.B. and Schyns, P. G. (2014) Dynamic facial expressions of emotion transmit an evolving hierarchy of signals over time. Current Biology, 24(2), pp. 187-192. (doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2013.11.064) (PMID:24388852)

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Publisher's URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.cub.2013.11.064


Designed by biological and social evolutionary pressures, facial expressions of emotion comprise specific facial movements to support a near-optimal system of signaling and decoding. Although highly dynamical, little is known about the form and function of facial expression temporal dynamics. Do facial expressions transmit diagnostic signals simultaneously to optimize categorization of the six classic emotions, or sequentially to support a more complex communication system of successive categorizations over time? Our data support the latter. Using a combination of perceptual expectation modeling, information theory, and Bayesian classifiers, we show that dynamic facial expressions of emotion transmit an evolving hierarchy of “biologically basic to socially specific” information over time. Early in the signaling dynamics, facial expressions systematically transmit few, biologically rooted face signals supporting the categorization of fewer elementary categories (e.g., approach/avoidance). Later transmissions comprise more complex signals that support categorization of a larger number of socially specific categories (i.e., the six classic emotions). Here, we show that dynamic facial expressions of emotion provide a sophisticated signaling system, questioning the widely accepted notion that emotion communication is comprised of six basic (i.e., psychologically irreducible) categories, and instead suggesting four.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Garrod, Dr Oliver and Jack, Professor Rachael and Schyns, Professor Philippe
Authors: Jack, R. E., Garrod, O. G.B., and Schyns, P. G.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Psychology & Neuroscience
College of Science and Engineering > School of Psychology
Journal Name:Current Biology
ISSN (Online):1879-0445
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2014 Elsevier
First Published:First published in Current Biology 24(2):187-192
Publisher Policy:Reproduced in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher

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Project CodeAward NoProject NamePrincipal InvestigatorFunder's NameFunder RefLead Dept
590701Mapping the Cultural Landscape of Emotions for Social InteractionRachael JackEconomic & Social Research Council (ESRC)ES/K001973/1S&E PSY - PSYCHOLOGY
591971DADIOS (Data-driven Analysis of the Dynamics of Information-acquisition Over time during Social judgement)Philippe SchynsEconomic & Social Research Council (ESRC)ES/K00607X/1INP - CENTRE FOR COGNITIVE NEUROIMAGING
595751Mapping Cultural Differences in Facial Expressions of Emotion.Rachael JackBritish Academy (BRIT-ACAD)SG113332PSY - PSYCHOLOGY