Angry is not that Angry: Relativity of Emotion Perception and New Development of Emotional Expressions Photobank

Principal Investigator
Grant Awarding Body
Research Grants Council
Grant Type
Faculty Development Scheme
Project Code
Amount awarded
Funding Year
Duration of the Project
24 months
Many studies of categorical emotion perception rely on morphing to generate stimuli. The basic function of morphing is to create a number of transitional faces of the same person that morph from one particular emotional expression to another, thereby providing a continuum of emotions. The rationale for choosing which two particular expressions to morph, however, is rarely mentioned. In the dimensional account of emotion, emotion identification depends on which emotional expressions are compared. Such an account therefore requires multiple morphing combinations rather than an exclusive morphing pattern to capture the relativity of emotion identification. The dimensional account further predicts that the categorical feature between two emotional expressions is less obvious when they are located in the same quarter of a 2 (pleasantness) x 2 (activation) dimensional space. The relative strength of these two dimensions may also differ. There is little empirical work verifying the role of the dimensional account of emotion, a gap the proposed research will fill in a three-phase study. In the first phase, a new photobank of emotional faces with all combinations of morphing sequences will be built. To enhance ecological validity, it will contain both exaggerated version of the expressions found in traditional photobanks and their natural version. In the second phase, the categorical features of the traditional morphing sequence and other morphing sequences will be compared. If the dimensional account of emotion is correct, the time taken to identify the emotional expressions should be longer if the expressions are morphed based on two basic emotions that are located in the same quarter rather than in different quarters. The final phase will involve a comparison of dimensional strength. The emotional expressions within a pair that differs exclusively in the pleasantness dimension are expected to be more discriminable than those within a pair that differs in the activation dimension. The results obtained in the second and third phases will allow verification of the thesis that discriminability is a relative concept determined by the dimensional nature of basic emotions.