Putting Facial Expressions Back in Context.

Shlomo Bentin, Yaacov Trope, Ran Hassin, Hillel Aviezer

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


It is implausible that our ability to recognize facial expressions and map them into emotion categories evolved in complete isolation from our ability to recognize the context in which the faces are embedded. It is very surprising, therefore, that while literally hundreds of studies have examined the perception of isolated facial expressions, only a handful have asked how the perception of the expressions on faces might be influenced by their natural surroundings. We start this chapter by briefly reviewing past work on context and facial expressions. As we will see, most studies did not directly address the question of how context might influence the perception of facial expressions themselves. We next review three diverging views with regard to the most basic, irreducible, emotional information that is assumed to be read-out from the facial configuration in a context-immune manner. We will show that one's stance regarding the atoms of emotion perception bears directly on one's expectations regarding face-context interactions. Finally, we present a model and empirical studies showing that context changes the perception of facial expressions in a systematic manner. Specifically, dramatic context effects can be predicted from the physical and perceptual similarity that is shared between the configurations of different facial expressions.
Original languageAmerican English
Title of host publicationFirst impressions
EditorsNalini Ambady, John J. Skowronski
Place of PublicationNew York
PublisherGuilford Press
ISBN (Print)9781593857165
StatePublished - 2008

Bibliographical note

Item Citation: In: Ambady, A.; Skowronsky, J.J. (eds.): First Impressions. New-York: Guilford, 2008, 255-286.

Web address: http://cel.huji.ac.il/publications/pdfs/Aviezer_et_al_2008_Chapter_in_First_Impressions.pdf

Accession Number: edspes.75044; Publication Type: Academic Journal; Language: English; Publication Date: 20080101


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