The Role of Social Context for the Interpretation of Emotional Facial Expressions

Ursula Hess, Shlomo Hareli

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


Facial expressions are not typically interpreted in a vacuum. Rather, they are seen and understood in a social context. Specifically, the understanding of the more ambiguous facial expressions shown in everyday interactions tends to be influenced by the knowledge we have about the person and the situation as well as stereotype knowledge about the social group of the expresser. Even if little is known about the person, the face itself provides information about gender, age, and ethnicity, among other things, which all are associated with stereotypes about the likely emotion a person may show. Finally, the face itself is not an empty canvas and facial morphology interacts with facial expression. This chapter will present a model of social influences on the labeling of emotion expressions and the inferences that are drawn from them.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationUnderstanding Facial Expressions in Communication
Subtitle of host publicationCross-Cultural and Multidisciplinary Perspectives
PublisherSpringer India
Number of pages23
ISBN (Electronic)9788132219347
ISBN (Print)9788132219330
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2015

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© Springer India 2015.


  • Emotion
  • Face
  • Facial expressions
  • Recognition
  • Social context

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology (all)
  • Social Sciences (all)
  • Computer Science (all)


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