Through 3 studies, we investigated whether angularity and roundness present in faces contributes to the perception of anger and joyful expressions, respectively. First, in Study 1 we found that angry expressions naturally contain more inward-pointing lines, whereas joyful expressions contain more outwardpointing lines. Then, using image-processing techniques in Studies 2 and 3, we filtered images to contain only inward-pointing or outward-pointing lines as a way to approximate angularity and roundness. We found that filtering images to be more angular increased how threatening and angry a neutral face was rated, increased how intense angry expressions were rated, and enhanced the recognition of anger. Conversely, filtering images to be rounder increased how warm and joyful a neutral face was rated, increased the intensity of joyful expressions, and enhanced recognition of joy. Together these findings show that angularity and roundness play a direct role in the recognition of angry and joyful expressions. Given evidence that angularity and roundness may play a biological role in indicating threat and safety in the environment, this suggests that angularity and roundness represent primitive facial cues used to signal threatanger and warmthjoy pairings.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- General Psychology