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Greater perceptual sensitivity to happy facial expression.

Authors
  • Maher, Stephen
  • Ekstrom, Tor
  • Chen, Yue
Type
Published Article
Journal
Perception
Publication Date
Jan 01, 2014
Volume
43
Issue
12
Pages
1353–1364
Identifiers
PMID: 25669052
Source
Medline
License
Unknown

Abstract

Perception of subtle facial expressions is essential for social functioning; yet it is unclear if human perceptual sensitivities differ in detecting varying types of facial emotions. Evidence diverges as to whether salient negative versus positive emotions (such as sadness versus happiness) are preferentially processed. Here, we measured perceptual thresholds for the detection of four types of emotion in faces--happiness, fear, anger, and sadness--using psychophysical methods. We also evaluated the association of the perceptual performances with facial morphological changes between neutral and respective emotion types. Human observers were highly sensitive to happiness compared with the other emotional expressions. Further, this heightened perceptual sensitivity to happy expressions can be attributed largely to the emotion-induced morphological change of a particular facial feature (end-lip raise).

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