Through 3 studies, we investigated whether angularity and roundness present in faces contributes to the perception of anger and joyful expressions, respectively. First, in Study 1 we found that angry expressions naturally contain more inward-pointing lines, whereas joyful expressions contain more outwardpointing lines. Then, using image-processing techniques in Studies 2 and 3, we filtered images to contain only inward-pointing or outward-pointing lines as a way to approximate angularity and roundness. We found that filtering images to be more angular increased how threatening and angry a neutral face was rated, increased how intense angry expressions were rated, and enhanced the recognition of anger. Conversely, filtering images to be rounder increased how warm and joyful a neutral face was rated, increased the intensity of joyful expressions, and enhanced recognition of joy. Together these findings show that angularity and roundness play a direct role in the recognition of angry and joyful expressions. Given evidence that angularity and roundness may play a biological role in indicating threat and safety in the environment, this suggests that angularity and roundness represent primitive facial cues used to signal threatanger and warmthjoy pairings.
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