ERIC Number: ED203411
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1981-Apr
Reference Count: 0
Accuracy in Identifying Facial Expressions as a Function of Communication Context.
Andersen, Peter A.; Morganstern, Barry
A study tested the effect of three levels of context (positive, neutral, and negative) on subjects' accuracy in identifying facial expressions of emotion (fear, disgust, anger, sadness, happiness, and surprise). The subjects were 277 female and 69 male teachers enrolled in graduate communication courses. After reading a positive, neutral, or negative context description and then viewing photographs of actors displaying four different negative facial expressions, the subjects selected one of six choices as identifying the portrayed emotion. The positive and negative contextual cues resulted in poorer accuracy for identifying facial expressions. Contrary to expectations, a neutral emotional context proved better than a negative context in facilitating the identification of negative facial expressions. Apparently, facial expressions are best identified out of context and any contextual cues confuse the meaning of the expression. Thus contextual cues may not act as choice-narrowing cues, as previous researchers have hypothesized, but as choice-widening cues in the interpretation of facial expressions. The results also provided additional support for previously identified male/female differences in identifying nonverbal facial expressions; the female subjects in this study were found to be significantly more accurate than the male subjects in identifying facial expressions. (RL)
Publication Type: Reports - Research; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers: Accuracy; Emotions; Facial Expressions
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Eastern Communication Association (Pittsburgh, PA, April 24-26, 1981).