SATO Wataru Laboratory

Relationships among facial mimicry, emotional experience, and emotion recognition

(Sato, Fujimura, Kochiyama, & Suzuki: PLoS One)

The relationships between facial mimicry and subsequent psychological processes remain unclear.
We hypothesized that the congruent facial muscle activity would elicit emotional experiences and that the experienced emotion would induce emotion recognition.

To test this hypothesis, we re-analyzed data collected in two previous studies.
We recorded facial electromyography (EMG) from the corrugator supercilii and zygomatic major and obtained ratings on scales of valence and arousal for experienced emotions (Study 1) and for experienced and recognized emotions (Study 2) while participants viewed dynamic and static facial expressions of negative and positive emotions.

Principal Findings:
Path analyses showed that the facial EMG activity consistently predicted the valence ratings for the emotions experienced in response to dynamic facial expressions.
The experienced valence ratings in turn predicted the recognized valence ratings in Study 2.

These results suggest that facial mimicry influences the sharing and recognition of emotional valence in response to others' dynamic facial expressions.

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