Advertisement

Journal of Nonverbal Behavior

, Volume 32, Issue 4, pp 215–224 | Cite as

Emotional Empathy and Facial Feedback

  • Per Andréasson
  • Ulf Dimberg
Original Paper

Abstract

We studied if emotional empathy is related to sensitivity to facial feedback. The participants, 112 students, rated themselves on the questionnaire measure of emotional empathy (QMEE) and were divided into one high and one low empathic group. Facial expressions were manipulated to produce a happy or a sulky expression. During the manipulation, participants rated humorous films with respect to funniness. These ratings were the dependent variable. No main effect of facial expression was found. However, a significant interaction between empathy and condition indicated that the high as compared to the low empathic group rated the films as being funnier in a happy condition and a tendency to be less funny in a sulky condition. On the basis of the present results we suggest emotional empathy to be one important and previously ignored factor to explain individual differences in effects of facial feedback.

Keywords

Facial feedback Emotional empathy Facial expression Emotion 

Notes

Acknowledgements

This study was supported by grants to Ulf Dimberg from The Swedish Research Council and The Bank of Sweden Tercentenary Foundation. We thank Sven Söderkvist for his constructive contribution in the development of the specific method used in this study.

References

  1. Adelmann, P. K., & Zajonc, R. B. (1989). Facial efference and experience of emotion. Annual Review of Psychology, 40, 249–280.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Buck, R. (1980). Nonverbal behaviour and the theory of emotion: The facial feedback hypothesis. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 38, 811–824.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Buck, R. (1984). The communication of emotion. New York: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  4. Chlopan, B. E., McCain, M. L., Carbonell, J. L., & Hagen, R. L. (1985). Empathy: Review of available measures. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 48, 635–653.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Cohen, J. (1988). Statistical power analysis for the behavioural sciences (2nd ed.). Hillsdale: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  6. Cornelius, R. R. (1996). The science of emotion: Research and tradition in the psychology of emotion. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.Google Scholar
  7. Darwin, C. (1872). The expression of emotion in man and animals. London: Murray.Google Scholar
  8. Davis, M. H. (1996). Empathy. A social psychological approach. Boulder: Westview Press.Google Scholar
  9. Dimberg, U. (1982). Facial reactions to facial expressions. Psychophysiology, 19, 643–647.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Dimberg, U. (1988). Facial electromyography and the experience of emotion. Journal of Psychophysiology, 3, 277–282.Google Scholar
  11. Dimberg, U. (1990). Facial electromyography and emotional reaction. Psychophysiology, 27, 481–494.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Dimberg, U. (1997). Facial EMG: Indicator of rapid emotional reactions [Abstract]. International Journal of Psychophysiology, 25, 52–53.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Dimberg, U., & Söderkvist, S. (2007). Unpublished manuscript.Google Scholar
  14. Dimberg, U., Andréasson, P., & Thunberg, M. (2005). Empathy and facial reactions to facial expressions. Psychophysiology, 42, S50.Google Scholar
  15. Dimberg, U., Thunberg, M., & Elmehed, K. (2000). Unconscious facial reactions to emotional facial expressions. Psychological Science, 11, 86–89.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Ekman, P. (1973). Cross-cultural studies of facial expressions. In P. Ekman (Ed.), Darwin and facial expression (pp. 169–220). New York: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  17. Flack, W. F. (2006). Peripheral feedback effects of facial expressions, bodily postures, and vocal expressions on emotional feelings. Cognition and Emotion, 20, 177–195.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Hess, U., & Blairy, S. (2001). Facial mimicry and emotional contagion to dynamic emotional facial expressions and their influence on decoding accuracy. International Journal of Psychophysiology, 40, 129–141.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Hsee, C. K., Hatfield, E., Carlson, J. G., & Chemtob, C. (1990). The effect of power on susceptibility to emotional contagion. Cognition and Emotion, 4, 327–340.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Izard, C. E. (1977). Human emotions. New York: Plenum.Google Scholar
  21. Laird, J. D. (1974). Self-attribution of emotion: The effects of expressive behaviour on the quality of emotional experience. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 29, 475–486.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Laird, J. D. (1984). The role of facial response in the experience of emotion: A reply to Tourangeau and Ellsworth, and others. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 47, 909–917.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Leslie, K. R., Johnson-Frey, S. H., & Grafton, S. T. (2004). Functional imaging of face and hand imitation: Towards a motor theory of empathy. NeuroImage, 21, 601–607.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Levenson, R. B., & Ruef, A. M. (1992). Empathy: A physiological substrate. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 63, 234–246.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Lundqvist, L., & Dimberg, U. (1995). Facial expressions are contagious. Journal of Psychophysiology, 9, 203–211.Google Scholar
  26. MacDonald, A. (2003). I feel your pain (and joy): New theories about empathy. Brain Work, 13(4), 1–3.Google Scholar
  27. Matsumoto, D. (1987). The role of facial response in the experience of emotion: More methodological problems and a meta-analysis. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 52, 769–774.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. McIntosh, D. N. (1996). Facial feedback hypothesis: Evidence, implications, and directions. Motivation and Emotion, 20, 121–147.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Mehrabian, A., & Epstein, N. (1972). A measure of emotional empathy. Journal of Personality, 40, 525–543.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Schwartz, G. E., Fair, P. L., Salt, P., Mandel, M. R., & Klerman, G. L. (1976). Facial muscle patterning to affective imagery in depressed and nondepressed subjects. Science, 192, 489–491.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Sonnby-Borgström, M. (2002). Automatic mimicry reactions as related to differences in emotional empathy. Scandinavian Journal of Psychology, 43, 433–443.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Soussignan, R. (2002). Duchenne smile, emotional experience, and autonomic reactivity: A test of the facial feedback hypothesis. Emotion, 2, 52–74.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Strack, F., Martin, L. L., & Stepper, S. (1988). Inhibiting and facilitating conditions of the human smile: A nonobtrusive test of the facial feedback hypothesis. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 54, 768–777.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Tomkins, S. S. (1962). Affect, imagery, consciousness. New York: Springer.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUppsala UniversityUppsalaSweden

Personalised recommendations