Emotion perception in emotionless face images suggests a norm-based representation
Donald Neth, Aleix M. Martinez
Volume 9, Number 1, Article 5, Pages 1-11, Journal Of Vision
Perception of facial expressions of emotion is generally assumed to correspond to underlying muscle movement. However, it is often observed that some individuals have sadder or angrier faces, even for neutral, motionless faces. Here, we report on one such effect caused by simple static configural changes. In particular, we show four variations in the relative vertical position of the nose, mouth, eyes, and eyebrows that affect the perception of emotion in neutral faces. The first two configurations make the vertical distance between the eyes and mouth shorter than average, resulting in the perception of an angrier face. The other two configurations make this distance larger than average, resulting in the perception of sadness. These perceptions increase with the amount of configural change, suggesting a representation based on variations from a norm (prototypical) face.