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Journal of Nonverbal Behavior

, Volume 20, Issue 3, pp 165–182 | Cite as

Facial expressions of emotion influence interpersonal trait inferences

  • Brian Knutson
Article

Abstract

Theorists have argued that facial expressions of emotion serve the interpersonal function of allowing one animal to predict another's behavior. Humans may extend these predictions into the indefinite future, as in the case of trait inference. The hypothesis that facial expressions of emotion (e.g., anger, disgust, fear, happiness, and sadness) affect subjects' interpersonal trait inferences (e.g., dominance and affiliation) was tested in two experiments. Subjects rated the dispositional affiliation and dominance of target faces with either static or apparently moving expressions. They inferred high dominance and affiliation from happy expressions, high dominance and low affiliation from angry and disgusted expressions, and low dominance from fearful and sad expressions. The findings suggest that facial expressions of emotion convey not only a target's internal state, but also differentially convey interpersonal information, which could potentially seed trait inference.

Keywords

Social Psychology Facial Expression Internal State High Dominance Seed Trait 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Copyright information

© Human Sciences Press, Inc 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyBowling Green State UniversityBowling Green

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