The Influence of Facial Emotion Displays, Gender, and Ethnicity on Judgments of Dominance and Affiliation

Abstract

Facial expressions of emotions convey not only information about emotional states but also about interpersonal intentions. The present study investigated whether factors known to influence the decoding of emotional expressions—the gender and ethnicity of the stimulus person as well as the intensity of the expression—would also influence attributions of interpersonal intentions. For this, 145 men and women rated emotional facial expressions posed by both Caucasian and Japanese male and female stimulus persons on perceived dominance and affiliation. The results showed that the sex and the ethnicity of the encoder influenced observers' ratings of dominance and affiliation. For anger displays only, this influence was mediated by expectations regarding how likely it is that a particular encoder group would display anger. Further, affiliation ratings were equally influenced by low intensity and by high intensity expressions, whereas only fairly intense emotional expressions affected attributions of dominance.

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Hess, U., Blairy, S. & Kleck, R.E. The Influence of Facial Emotion Displays, Gender, and Ethnicity on Judgments of Dominance and Affiliation. Journal of Nonverbal Behavior 24, 265–283 (2000). https://doi.org/10.1023/A:1006623213355

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  • facial emotion displays
  • gender
  • ethnicity
  • dominance
  • affiliation