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date: 19 February 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Emotion perception research is dominated by the assumption that emotions are written on the face as particular arrangements of facial actions. This face-focused paradigm assumes that posed, static configurations of facial muscle movements provide sufficient cues to emotion, such that the study of context is secondary. As a result, it has been assumed that the mechanisms for perceiving posed, static facial actions reveal the mechanisms that support emotion perception outside of the laboratory setting. In this chapter, we review this face-focused paradigm in emotion perception and contrast it with experimental findings that place the face in context. Furthermore, we question whether a posed face is ever without context, even in a lab. We discuss how features of an experiment can serve (however unintentionally) as a context that influences performance in emotion perception tasks. Based on the literature reviewed, we conclude that the study of emotion perception is necessarily contextualized, such that context not only influences emotion perception, but it might be intrinsic to seeing an emotion in the first place.

Keywords: emotion, perception, facial expression, context

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