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Enhanced Emotional And Motor Responses To Live Versus Videotaped Dynamic Facial Expressions

Chun-Ting Hsu, Wataru Sato, Sakiko Yoshikawa

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Abstract Facial expression is an integral aspect of non-verbal communication of affective information. Earlier psychological studies have reported that the presentation of prerecorded photographs or videos of emotional facial expressions automatically elicits divergent responses, such as emotions and facial mimicry. However, such highly controlled experimental procedures may lack the vividness of real-life social interactions. This study incorporated a live image relay system that delivered models’ real-time performance of positive (smiling) and negative (frowning) dynamic facial expressions or their prerecorded videos to participants. We measured subjective ratings of valence and arousal and facial electromyography (EMG) activity in the zygomaticus major and corrugator supercilii muscles. Subjective ratings showed that the live facial expressions were rated to elicit higher valence and more arousing than the corresponding videos for positive emotion conditions. Facial EMG data showed that compared with the video, live facial expressions more effectively elicited facial muscular activity congruent with the models’ positive facial expressions. The findings indicate that emotional facial expressions in live social interactions are more evocative of emotional reactions and facial mimicry than earlier experimental data have suggested.