What is it about?

The study investigated if (1) people can determine if expressions of surprise are genuine or deliberate, (2) if their performance is impacted by seeing such expressions in static (i.e. photo) or dynamic (i.e. video) formats, and (3) if the type of deliberate expression (considering various production methods) impacts perception and discriminability. Indeed, we found that people are not very accurate at determining if an expression is genuine or deliberate, and that the type of deliberate expressions affected their perceptions. It was also found that using dynamic stimuli offers benefits and a different patter of results to presenting simple photos.

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Why is it important?

The implications of this research concern both theoretical and methodological aspects of the emotion field. It is evident that not all deliberate/posed/faked expressions are created equal. As such, investigations into affective authenticity or even classification accuracy must be mindful of how they generate the expressions for their research, as they can obtain different patterns of results; this also highlights the need to be considerate of the terminology used in research, as "posed" or "deliberate" may reflect the intentionality aspect of the expressions, but not the subtle differences that emerge from using various approaches. It is also evident that researchers should move towards more dynamic stimuli in their research. If the goal is to capture real-world performance, then ecological validity should be paramount.


MZ: This research was a culmination of my theoretical work during my PhD. I had started from the perspective presented in the deception detection literature of genuine and "deceptive" expressions of emotion being demonstrably different (e.g., work on the Duchenne smile). However, the empirical support for this approach seemed contingent on several strong assumptions. For instance, the over-reliance on facial muscle activation patterns, and selection criteria for "good/bad" stimuli. I was also more interested with human perception of such expressions. Namely, how do people attend to, perceive, process, and judge facial expressions of emotion, and to what degree can they infer affective authenticity from such displays?

Mircea Zloteanu
Kingston University

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This page is a summary of: Detecting Genuine and Deliberate Displays of Surprise in Static and Dynamic Faces, Frontiers in Psychology, July 2018, Frontiers, DOI: 10.3389/fpsyg.2018.01184.
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