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Facial and Body Posture Emotion Identification in Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Young Adults

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The aim of the current study was to examine facial and body posture emotion recognition among deaf and hard-of-hearing (DHH) and hearing young adults. Participants were (N = 126) DHH (n = 48) and hearing (n = 78) college students who completed two emotion recognition tasks in which they were shown photographs of faces and body postures displaying different emotions of both high and low intensities and had to infer the emotion being displayed. Compared to hearing participants, DHH participants performed worse on the body postures emotion task for both high and low intensities. They also performed more poorly on the facial emotion task, but only for low-intensity emotional facial expressions. On both tasks, DHH participants whose primary mode of communication was Signed English performed significantly more poorly than those whose primary mode was American Sign Language (ASL) or spoken English. Moreover, DHH participants who communicated using ASL performed similarly to hearing participants. This suggests that difficulties in affect recognition among DHH individuals occur when processing both facial and body postures that are more subtle and reflective of real-life displays of emotion. Importantly, this also suggests that ASL as a primary form of communication in this population may serve as a protective factor against emotion recognition difficulties, which could, in part, be due to the complex nature of this language and its requirement to perceive meaning through facial and postural expressions with a wide visual lens.

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Data Availability

The data that support the findings of this study are available from the corresponding author upon reasonable request.


  1. The distribution of the scores was negatively skewed. This is not surprising, as the majority of scores fell within the higher range. To correct for this, we performed a log10 transformation that included a reflection of the data prior to the log10 analyses. We calculated the ANOVAs prior to transforming and then recalculated the ANOVAs using the log10 values. Results were consistent across the transformed data and the original data, so we have reported ANOVAs with the original data.


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The authors did not receive funding from any organization for the submitted work.

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Authors and Affiliations



L.S. contributed to the study conception, design, data collection, analysis, and manuscript editing. B.B. contributed to the data analysis and manuscript writing. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

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Correspondence to Lindsay S. Schenkel.

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The authors confirm that the study was approved by the Institutional Review Board and certify that it was performed in accordance with the ethical standards as laid down in the 1964 Declaration of Helsinki and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

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Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

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Blose, B.A., Schenkel, L.S. Facial and Body Posture Emotion Identification in Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Young Adults. J Nonverbal Behav (2024).

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