Examples of research that has been conducted

Spontaneous and Dynamic Emotional Facial Expressions Reflect Action Readiness

Spontaneous and Dynamic Emotional Facial Expressions Reflect Action Readiness

As stated by Nico Frijda (1986, 2007), emotional facial expressions (EFE) reflect the subject’s relational activity, or state of action readiness. This view is in line with and old tradition in facial expression analysis according to which expressive behaviors are best viewed as functional actions that implement one’s relation to other people or to other aspects of the environment. As evidenced by studies in which subjects rated facial expression photographs in terms of an action readiness, observers can indeed interpret EFE as implementing modes of relational action readiness. In the present study, subjects were presented with 12 short excerpts (10sec. long) of adults’ faces expressing spontaneous displays of happiness, fright, disgust, boredom, interest and astonishment. They were asked to rate those expressions on 14 action readiness items on 5-point scales: “to what extent does the facial expression of this person manifest approach, avoidance, openness, ...?” Results show that the expected modes of action readiness were correctly associated with the corresponding EFE. Therefore these results give up support to the claim that E FE can be understood from the functions of their composing elements in approach, avoidance, affiliative intent, and the like. They will be discusses within the scope of a componential view of EFE for which components of expression each have theirs function s, linked to action readiness sources and relational functions , and consequently to emotions.


DynEmo is a database available to the scientific community (https://dynemo.upmf-grenoble.fr/). It contains dynamic and natural emotional facial expressions (EFEs) displaying subjective affective states rated by both the expresser and observers. Methodological and contextual information is provided for each expression. This multimodal corpus meets psychological, ethical, and technical criteria. It is quite large, containing two sets of 233 and 125 recordings of EFE of ordinary Caucasian people (ages 25 to 65, 182 females and 176 males) filmed in natural but standardized conditions. In the Set 1, EFE recordings are associated with the affective state of the expresser (self-reported after the emotion inducing task, using dimensional, action readiness, and emotional labels items). In the Set 2, EFE recordings are both associated with the affective state of the expresser and with the time line (continuous annotations) of observers’ ratings of the emotions displayed throughout the recording. The time line allows any researcher interested in analysing non-verbal human behavior to segment the expressions into small emotion excerpts.

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