OPEN Journal of vision | 27 Apr 2013
JM Gold, JD Barker, S Barr, JL Bittner, WD Bromfield, N Chu, RA Goode, D Lee, M Simmons and A Srinath
Unlike frozen snapshots of facial expressions that we often see in photographs, natural facial expressions are dynamic events that unfold in a particular fashion over time. But how important are the temporal properties of expressions for our ability to reliably extract information about a person’s emotional state? We addressed this question experimentally by gauging human performance in recognizing facial expressions with varying temporal properties relative to that of a statistically optimal (“ideal”) observer. We found that people recognized emotions just as efficiently when viewing them as naturally evolving dynamic events, temporally reversed events, temporally randomized events, or single images frozen in time. Our results suggest that the dynamic properties of human facial movements may play a surprisingly small role in people’s ability to infer the emotional states of others from their facial expressions.
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