Accurate perception of emotional expressions plays a critical role in empathic accuracy, but are emotional expressions truly informative for affect? Classic theories of emotion assert a direct, causal link between the emotional experience and its consequent manifestation in the face and voice. Such theories predict that distinct emotional experiences would yield distinct emotional expressions, each diagnostic for the valence of its occurring situation. However, although the hallmark of emotional expressions is their spontaneous expressive nature, the prevalent approach in contemporary studies of emotional expressions relies on posed or simulated expressions of actors. In this chapter, we discuss recent evidence from studies that pursued more ecological and naturalistic stimuli in emotion perception research. A special emphasis is placed on intense emotional expressions, in which empathic accuracy may be most critical. Converging recent evidence casts doubt on the diagnostic nature of emotional expressions and highlights the role of contextual information in the perception of emotion. Finally, the methodological and theoretical implications to the fields of both emotion perception and empathic accuracy are discussed.
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- Context effects
- Emotion perception
- Emotional vocalizations
- Facial expressions
- Intense emotions
- Real life