Cecil Gibb Research Seminar Series: Expression authenticity and emotional meaning

Eva Krumhuber is associate professor in the Department of Experimental Psychology, with research interests in the domain of emotion and facial expression. Much of her work is concerned with empirical investigations into the socio-cognitive and affective processes of human perception and behaviour. Specifically, this includes research on movement dynamics and their role in emotion interpretation. More recently, she started to explore commonalities and differences in human and machine emotion classification, with a particular focus on methodological aspects in expression elicitation. She has published widely within the field of psychology and computer science, served on the program committee of multiple conferences, and currently acts as Associate Editor of the Journal of Nonverbal Behavior.

Much of the existing research focuses on prototypical expressive patterns of emotions. In terms of the displayed emotions, the criterion for usage typically is clearly and easily recognizable expressions. In this talk, I would like to argue that the emotional clarity and prototypicality of facial displays is not sufficient to capture the complexities and subtleties of human perception. Based on a number of studies conducted in my laboratory I show that perceivers go beyond what is directly observable and make inferences about the underlying states, intentions, and qualities of others. This is seen in examples that involve the perception of emotions from facial expressions as well as the attribution of dispositional and mental aspects. Furthermore, motivational as well as situational factors impact the meaning of facial expressions, leading to different behavioural responses.