September 2015
Volume 15, Issue 12
Vision Sciences Society Annual Meeting Abstract  |   September 2015
Facial mimicry is modulated by implicit and explicit emotion consistency.
Author Affiliations
  • Alexander Kirkham
    Dept. of Psychology, University of York, UK.
  • Amy Hayes
    School of Sport, Health and Exercise Sciences, Bangor University, UK.
  • Steven Tipper
    Dept. of Psychology, University of York, UK.
Journal of Vision September 2015, Vol.15, 1377. doi:
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      Alexander Kirkham, Amy Hayes, Steven Tipper; Facial mimicry is modulated by implicit and explicit emotion consistency.. Journal of Vision 2015;15(12):1377.

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      © ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)

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Adapting and integrating to our current environment through physical and social imitation of those around us, such as mimicking facial emotion, often seems to be an automatic and unconscious process. We examined whether the consistency of a person’s emotional response can be learned and influence later emotional mimicry. For example, some individuals always express consistent emotions, such as smiling at a positive image whereas other people emote inappropriately, where their emotion is inconsistent, such as smiling at negative images. Is such individual consistency encoded in to memory influencing subsequent mimicry when these consistent and inconsistent people are encountered at a later time? In Study 1 participants implicitly learnt to associate 4 faces as showing consistent emotions, and 4 different faces as showing inconsistent emotions. In Study 2 participants explicitly associated all faces as showing either consistent (2a) or inconsistent (2b) emotions. In both studies participants had facial EMG responses recorded (taken from the corrugator supercilii and zygomaticus major muscles) whilst viewing and categorising each face as smiling or frowning. These recordings were taken to assess how much mimicry was shown toward each face, in relation to the expression and the emotion-consistency of that specific face. In Study 1 EMG results exhibited highly similar mimicry to both consistent and inconsistent emotion faces, despite implicit learning of individual identities and associated emotion consistency. EMG results in Study 2a showed traditional strong mimicry effects to all face emotions. In Study 2b mimicry towards frowns remained but was greatly reduced compared to 2a. No mimicry was shown toward smiles. We conclude that facial mimicry is an automatic process that is nevertheless influenced by context, especially if the context is explicitly created.

Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2015


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