• Sensitivity to differences between posed and genuine facial expressions : are children easily fooled? /

      Thomson, Kendra M.; Department of Psychology (Brock University, 2007-05-21)
      Adults and children can discriminate various emotional expressions, although there is limited research on sensitivity to the differences between posed and genuine expressions. Adults have shown implicit sensitivity to the difference between posed and genuine happy smiles in that they evaluate T-shirts paired with genuine smiles more favorably than T-shirts paired with posed smiles or neutral expressions (Peace, Miles, & Johnston, 2006). Adults also have shown some explicit sensitivity to posed versus genuine expressions; they are more likely to say that a model i?,feeling happy if the expression is genuine than posed. Nonetheless they are duped by posed expressions about 50% of the time (Miles, & Johnston, in press). There has been no published study to date in which researchers report whether children's evaluation of items varies with expression and there is little research investigating children's sensitivity to the veracity of facial expressions. In the present study the same face stimuli were used as in two previous studies (Miles & Johnston, in press; Peace et al., 2006). The first question to be addressed was whether adults and 7-year-olds have a cognitive understanding of the differences between posed and genuine happiness {scenario task). They evaluated the feelings of children who expressed gratitude for a present that they did or did not want. Results indicated that all participants had a fundamental understanding of the difference between real and posed happiness. The second question involved adults' and children's implicit sensitivity to the veracity of posed and genuine smiles. Participants rated and ranked beach balls paired with faces showing posed smiles, genuine smiles, and neutral expressions. Adults ranked.but did not rate beach balls paired with genuine smiles more favorably than beach balls paired with posed smiles. Children did not demonstrate implicit sensitivity as their ratings and rankings of beach balls did not vary with expressions; they did not even rank beach balls paired with genuine expressions higher than beach balls paired with neutral expressions. In the explicit (show/feel) task, faces were presented without the beach balls and participants were first asked whether each face was showing happy and then whether each face wasfeeling happy. There were also two matching trials that presented two faces at once; participants had to indicate which person was actuallyfeeling happy. In the show condition both adults and 7-year-olds were very accurate on genuine and neutral expressions but made some errors on posed smiles. Adults were fooled about 50% of the time by posed smiles in thefeel condition (i.e., they were likely to say that a model posing happy was really feeling happy) and children were even less accurate, although they showed weak sensitivity to posed versus genuine expressions. Future research should test an older age group of children to determine when explicit sensitivity to posed versus genuine facial expressions becomes adult-like and modify the ranking task to explore the influence of facial expressions on object evaluations.