Generalizing Duchenne to Sad Expressions with Binocular Rivalry and Perception Ratings

Nour Malek, Daniel Messinger, Andy Yuan Lee Gao, Eva Krumhuber, Whitney Mattson, Ridha Joober, Karim Tabbane, Julio C. Martinez-Trujillo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Discrete emotion theories emphasize the modularity of facial expressions, while functionalist theories suggest that a single facial action may have a common meaning across expressions. Smiles involving the Duchenne marker, eye constriction causing crow's feet, are perceived as intensely positive and sincere. To test whether the Duchenne marker is a general index of intensity and sincerity, we contrasted positive and negative expressions with and without the Duchenne marker in a binocular rivalry paradigm. Both smiles and sad expressions involving the Duchenne marker were perceived longer than non-Duchenne expressions, and participants rated all Duchenne expressions as more affectively intense and more sincere than their non-Duchenne counterparts. Correlations between perceptual dominance and ratings suggested that the Duchenne marker increased the dominance of smiles and sad expressions by increasing their perceived affective intensity. The results provide evidence in favor of Darwin's hypothesis that specific facial actions have a general function (conveying affect intensification and sincerity) across expressions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)234-241
Number of pages8
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2019


  • Duchenne marker
  • binocular rivalry
  • sad
  • smile
  • valence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)


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