The eyes have it: Making positive expressions more positive and negative expressions more negative

Daniel S. Messinger, Whitney I. Mattson, Mohammad H. Mahoor, Jeffrey F. Cohn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

46 Scopus citations

Abstract

Facial expressions frequently involve multiple individual facial actions. How do facial actions combine to create emotionally meaningful expressions? Infants produce positive and negative facial expressions at a range of intensities. It may be that a given facial action can index the intensity of both positive (smiles) and negative (cry-face) expressions. Objective, automated measurements of facial action intensity were paired with continuous ratings of emotional valence to investigate this possibility. Degree of eye constriction (the Duchenne marker) and mouth opening were each uniquely associated with smile intensity and, independently, with cry-face intensity. In addition, degree of eye constriction and mouth opening were each unique predictors of emotion valence ratings. Eye constriction and mouth opening index the intensity of both positive and negative infant facial expressions, suggesting parsimony in the early communication of emotion.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)430-436
Number of pages7
JournalEmotion
Volume12
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 2012

Keywords

  • Distress
  • Emotional expression
  • Facial action
  • Infancy
  • Intensity
  • Joy
  • Valence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)
  • Medicine(all)

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