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Motion Increases Recognition of Naturalistic Postures but not Facial Expressions

Abstract

Although emotion expressions are typically dynamic and include the whole person, much emotion recognition research uses static, posed facial expressions. In this study, we created a stimulus set of dynamic, naturalistic expressions drawn from professional tennis matches to determine whether movement would result in better recognition. We examined participants’ judgments of static versus dynamic expressions when viewing an isolated face, an isolated body, or a whole person. Dynamic expressions increased recognition of whether the player had won or lost the point. In addition, recognition improved when the whole person was presented as opposed to only the face or body. However, overall recognition of wins and losses was poor, with recognition for isolated faces being poorer than chance for winning players. Our findings highlight the importance of incorporating dynamic stimuli and support previous research showing that recognition of naturalistic expressions differs greatly from the commonly-used posed and isolated facial expressions of emotion. Using a wider range of naturalistic stimuli should be incorporated into future research to better understand how emotion recognition functions in daily life.

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Van Der Zant, T., Nelson, N.L. Motion Increases Recognition of Naturalistic Postures but not Facial Expressions. J Nonverbal Behav (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10919-021-00372-4

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Keywords

  • Emotional expressions
  • Naturalistic emotional expressions
  • Real-world expressions