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Your Facial Expressions may Prove to be Difficult for others to Identify You!

We are generally not so good at matching together two pictures of the same face

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facial expressions
different facial expressions. Wikimedia
  • According to the recent study published in the journal i-Perception, facial expressions can cause difficulties when it comes to telling unfamiliar faces apart
  • The participants in the experiment learned the identities of two actors from naturalistic face images taken from movies using an identification task
  • Expressive training responses were slower than neutral training responses, more erroneous too

Washington DC, June 13, 2017: It is well established that facial expressions help us by indicating the mood of a person, even when the person is not up for a conversation. But a new study has shown how facial expressions can cause difficulties when it comes to telling unfamiliar faces apart.

According to the study published in the journal i-Perception, people’s faces change from moment to moment. Even over the course of a conversation with someone, if noticed well, clear changes in their expressions and in the angle of their head can be spotted.

Even time causes further significant changes in appearance, such as facial hair, changes in hairstyle or weight loss. But despite these changes, it is not difficult for us to recognise someone we know. In case of unfamiliar faces, the story is different. It is proven by numerous studies that we are generally not so good at matching together two pictures of the same face.

It still remains unknown how our visual system manages to overcome the challenge of facial changes, and helps us to recognise people even with the changed appearance.

The participants learned the identities of two actors from naturalistic (so-called ‘ambient’) face images taken from movies using an identification task. The training was conducted either with neutral images or their expressive counterparts. Perceived expressiveness had been experimentally determined.

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Expressive training responses were slower than neutral training responses, more erroneous too.

According to ANI reports, Neutrally trained participants gave slower and less accurate responses to images of high compared to low expressiveness when tested with novel images of the actors that varied in expressiveness. It is clearly demonstrated by these findings that facial expressions intervene in the processing and learning of facial identity.

This dependence on expression is consistent with a two part model of face processing in which variable facial aspects and identity are coded in a common framework. It is thus suggestive of the fact that expressions are a part of facial identity representation.

According to lead researcher Annabelle Redfern from the School of Experimental Psychology, “Our approach was to use several hundred pictures of faces taken from movies, which meant that the images in these experiments resemble the sorts of faces that we see every day. We measured people’s reaction times and their accuracy at telling unfamiliar faces apart, and how this differed when the faces were very expressive compared to when they had a neutral expression.”

Redfern also mentioned that the differences that have been found point to the idea that our brains so not treat facial expressions and facial identity separately. Instead, we are more likely to mentally store someone’s expressions along with their faces.

– prepared by Durba Mandal of NewsGram. Twitter: @dubumerang

Next Story

Adolescents suffering Trauma and Stress likely to Impair Ability to recognise Facial Expressions

The findings showed that adolescents with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms are more likely to misidentify sad and angry faces as fearful

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Depression in women, Wikimedia

New York, Feb 21, 2017: Adolescents suffering from trauma and stress are likely to have impairment in the ability to recognise facial expressions that is critical for social functioning and communicating emotions, researchers say.

The findings showed that adolescents with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms are more likely to misidentify sad and angry faces as fearful.

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“Our findings suggest that exposure to stress and trauma can have acute emotional impacts that simply translate to misidentification of important affective cues,” said lead author Shabnam Javdani, Assistant Professor at New York University – Steinhardt in the US.

“Fear is particularly relevant for understanding PTSD, as the disorder has been associated with a ‘survival mode’ of functioning characterised by an overactive fight-or-flight response and increased threat perception,” Javdani added.

In contrast, teens with conduct disorder — a group of behavioural and emotional problems characterised by callousness or aggression towards others — were more likely to misidentify sad faces, but did not have trouble recognising angry or fearful faces.

Conduct disorder symptoms were associated with mistaking sadness for anger, suggesting that youth with higher levels of conduct disorder interpret sad faces as angry and may be less effective at recognising others’ sadness, pain and suffering.

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“Difficulty interpreting displays of sadness and misidentifying sadness as anger may contribute to the impaired affective bonding, low empathy, and callous behaviour observed in teens with conduct disorder,” Javdani said.

For the study, published in the journal Child and Adolescent Mental Health, the team examined 371 teens, ages 13-19, to understand the effects of PTSD and conduct disorder symptoms on how youth with emotional and behaviour problems process facial expressions.

Enhancing the accuracy of recognising facial expressions may be an important treatment goal for youth with symptoms of PTSD and conduct disorder, the researchers said. (IANS)