The eyebrow frown: a salient social signal

Emotion. 2002 Sep;2(3):288-96. doi: 10.1037/1528-3542.2.3.288.


Seven experiments investigated the finding that threatening schematic faces are detected more quickly than nonthreatening faces. Threatening faces with v-shaped eyebrows (angry and scheming expressions) were detected more quickly than nonthreatening faces with inverted v-shaped eyebrows (happy and sad expressions). In contrast to the hypothesis that these effects were due to perceptual features unrelated to the face, no advantage was found for v-shaped eyebrows presented in a nonfacelike object. Furthermore, the addition of internal facial features (the eyes, or the nose and mouth) was necessary to produce the detection advantage for faces with v-shaped eyebrows. Overall, the results are interpreted as showing that the v-shaped eyebrow configuration affords easy detection, but only when other internal facial features are present.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Affect*
  • Anger
  • Eyebrows
  • Facial Expression*
  • Female
  • Happiness
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Pattern Recognition, Visual*
  • Set, Psychology
  • Social Perception*