Face in profile view reduces perceived facial expression intensity: An eye-tracking study

Guo, Kun and Shaw, Heather (2015) Face in profile view reduces perceived facial expression intensity: An eye-tracking study. Acta Psychologica, 155. pp. 19-28. ISSN 0001-6918

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Recent studies measuring the facial expressions of emotion have focused primarily on the perception of frontal face images. As we frequently encounter expressive faces from different viewing angles, having a mechanism which allows invariant expression perception would be advantageous to our social interactions. Although a couple of studies have indicated comparable expression categorization accuracy across viewpoints, it is unknown how perceived expression intensity and associated gaze behaviour change across viewing angles. Differences could arise because diagnostic cues from local facial features for decoding expressions could vary with viewpoints. Here we manipulated orientation of faces (frontal, mid-profile, and profile view) displaying six common facial expressions of emotion, and measured participants' expression categorization accuracy, perceived expression intensity and associated gaze patterns. In comparison with frontal faces, profile faces slightly reduced identification rates for disgust and sad expressions, but significantly decreased perceived intensity for all tested expressions. Although quantitatively viewpoint had expression-specific influence on the proportion of fixations directed at local facial features, the qualitative gaze distribution within facial features (e.g., the eyes tended to attract the highest proportion of fixations, followed by the nose and then the mouth region) was independent of viewpoint and expression type. Our results suggest that the viewpoint-invariant facial expression processing is categorical perception, which could be linked to a viewpoint-invariant holistic gaze strategy for extracting expressive facial cues.

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Journal Article
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Acta Psychologica
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11 Feb 2019 10:40
Last Modified:
16 Sep 2023 01:53