Looking at you or looking elsewhere: The influence of head orientation on the signal value of emotional facial expressions

Ursula Hess, Reginald B. Adams, Robert E. Kleck

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

70 Scopus citations

Abstract

The role of horizontal head tilt for the perceptions of emotional facial expressions was examined. For this, a total of 387 participants rated facial expressions of anger, fear, sadness, and happiness, as well as neutral expressions shown by two men and two women in either a direct or an averted face angle. Decoding accuracy, attributions of dominance and affiliation, emotional reactions of the perceivers, and the felt desire to approach the expresser were assessed. Head position was found to strongly influence reactions to anger and fear but less so for other emotions. Direct anger expressions were more accurately decoded, perceived as less affiliative, and elicited higher levels of anxiousness and repulsion, as well as less desire to approach than did averted anger expressions. Conversely, for fear expressions averted faces elicited more negative affect in the perceiver. These findings suggest that horizontal head position is an important cue for the assessment of threat.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)137-144
Number of pages8
JournalMotivation and Emotion
Volume31
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 1 2007

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Psychology
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology

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