Seeing the unseen: Explicit and implicit communication effects of naturally occuring emotion microexpressions
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A set of three studies examined the explicit and implicit effects of microexpressions at 3 levels: a) recognition of the emotion b) evoked affect (via electrodermal response) and c) social perception (via impression judgments). A total of 180 undergraduate students were exposed to a stimulus set of 20 microexpressions that represented one of five universal emotions (anger, fear, sadness, disgust and happiness) in one of three presentation conditions: neutral footage condition where the stimulus individual showed no expression, unaltered footage containing the stimulus individual's naturally occurring microexpression, or a third condition where the microexpression length was elongated using video editing software. In Study 1 ( n = 93) participants indicated which emotion they thought the stimulus individual was feeling during each stimulus videoclip. In study 2 ( n = 139), electrodermal responses (based on skin conductance response amplitude) to the stimulus videos were measured. In study 3 ( n = 89) participants rated the individual in each stimulus video on the basic interpersonal dimensions of dominance and affiliation by making judgments of their likability, competence and trustworthiness. Results across the three studies indicated that although individuals do not explicitly recognize the emotion associated with microexpressions (Study 1), they do function similarly to other emotion expressions at the implicit level, showing evidence of higher evoked affect (higher electrodermal response; Study 2) and changes in impression judgments (Study 3).