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. 2017 Nov;108(4):797-811.
doi: 10.1111/bjop.12247. Epub 2017 Mar 21.

Behavioural Responses to Facial and Postural Expressions of Emotion: An Interpersonal Circumplex Approach

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Behavioural Responses to Facial and Postural Expressions of Emotion: An Interpersonal Circumplex Approach

Marije Aan Het Rot et al. Br J Psychol. .

Abstract

While the recognition of emotional expressions has been extensively studied, the behavioural response to these expressions has not. In the interpersonal circumplex, behaviour is defined in terms of communion and agency. In this study, we examined behavioural responses to both facial and postural expressions of emotion. We presented 101 Romanian students with facial and postural stimuli involving individuals ('targets') expressing happiness, sadness, anger, or fear. Using an interpersonal grid, participants simultaneously indicated how communal (i.e., quarrelsome or agreeable) and agentic (i.e., dominant or submissive) they would be towards people displaying these expressions. Participants were agreeable-dominant towards targets showing happy facial expressions and primarily quarrelsome towards targets with angry or fearful facial expressions. Responses to targets showing sad facial expressions were neutral on both dimensions of interpersonal behaviour. Postural versus facial expressions of happiness and anger elicited similar behavioural responses. Participants responded in a quarrelsome-submissive way to fearful postural expressions and in an agreeable way to sad postural expressions. Behavioural responses to the various facial expressions were largely comparable to those previously observed in Dutch students. Observed differences may be explained from participants' cultural background. Responses to the postural expressions largely matched responses to the facial expressions.

Keywords: agency; communion; emotion; facial expressions; interpersonal; posture.

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