Pupil dilation reflects the authenticity of received nonverbal vocalizations

Gonçalo, Cosme and Rosa, Pedro and Lima, Cesar and Tavares, Vania and Scott, Sophie and Chen, Sinead and Wilcockson, Thom and Crawford, Trevor and Prata, Diana (2021) Pupil dilation reflects the authenticity of received nonverbal vocalizations. Scientific Reports, 11 (1): 3733. ISSN 2045-2322

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The ability to infer the authenticity of other’s emotional expressions is a social cognitive process taking place in all human interactions. Although the neurocognitive correlates of authenticity recognition have been probed, its potential recruitment of the peripheral autonomic nervous system is not known. In this work, we asked participants to rate the authenticity of authentic and acted laughs and cries, while simultaneously recording their pupil size, taken as proxy of cognitive effort and arousal. We report, for the first time, that acted laughs elicited higher pupil dilation than authentic ones and, reversely, authentic cries elicited higher pupil dilation than acted ones. We tentatively suggest the lack of authenticity in others’ laughs elicits increased pupil dilation through demanding higher cognitive effort; and that, reversely, authenticity in cries increases pupil dilation, through eliciting higher emotional arousal. We also show authentic vocalizations and laughs (i.e. main effects of authenticity and emotion) to be perceived as more authentic, arousing and contagious than acted vocalizations and cries, respectively. In conclusion, we show new evidence that the recognition of emotional authenticity can be manifested at the level of the autonomic nervous system in humans. Notwithstanding, given its novelty, further independent research is warranted to ascertain its psychological meaning.

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Journal Article
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Scientific Reports
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Deposited On:
28 Jan 2021 10:40
Last Modified:
11 May 2024 02:16