Studying the dynamics of emotional expression using synthesized facial muscle movements

J Pers Soc Psychol. 2000 Jan;78(1):105-19. doi: 10.1037//0022-3514.78.1.105.


Synthetic images of facial expression were used to assess whether judges can correctly recognize emotions exclusively on the basis of configurations of facial muscle movements. A first study showed that static, synthetic images modeled after a series of photographs that are widely used in facial expression research yielded recognition rates and confusion patterns comparable to posed photos. In a second study, animated synthetic images were used to examine whether schematic facial expressions consisting entirely of theoretically postulated facial muscle configurations can be correctly recognized. Recognition rates for the synthetic expressions were far above chance, and the confusion patterns were comparable to those obtained with posed photos. In addition, the effect of static versus dynamic presentation of the expressions was studied. Dynamic presentation increased overall recognition accuracy and reduced confusions between unrelated emotions.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Emotions*
  • Facial Expression*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Judgment
  • Male
  • Pattern Recognition, Visual*
  • Software