What is it about your face that tells me what you want from me? Emotional appeals are associated with specific mental images

Ursula Hess, Shlomo Hareli, Andrea Scarantino

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Emotional facial expressions have a communicative function. Besides information about the internal states (emotions) and the intentions of the expresser (action tendencies), they also communicate what the expresser wants the observer to do (appeals). Yet, there is very little research on the association of appeals with specific emotions. The present study has the aim to study the mental association of appeals and expressions through reverse correlation. Using reverse correlation, we estimated the observer-specific internal representations of expressions associated with four different appeals. A second group of participants rated the resulting expressions. As predicted, we found that the appeal to celebrate was uniquely associated with a happy expression and the appeal to empathize with a sad expression. A pleading appeal to stop was more strongly associated with sadness than with anger, whereas a command to stop was comparatively more strongly associated with anger. The results show that observers internally represent appeals as specific emotional expressions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)389-398
Number of pages10
JournalCognition and Emotion
Volume38
Issue number3
Early online date17 Oct 2023
DOIs
StatePublished - May 2024
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.

Keywords

  • Emotion expressions
  • appeals
  • reverse correlation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)

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