Users may be more emotionally influenced by watching mouth expressions

In a study conducted in 2021, researchers investigated how people’s faces react to facial expressions in art. In the primary task, 47 participants had to watch various images depicting facial expressions, including faces rendered in different artistic styles—both realistic and abstract—along with varying levels of emotional intensity, while their own facial expressions were monitored using electrodes. The analytical approach involved comparing intensity of participants’ facial reactions across different facial muscles, comparing responses to realistic and nonrealistic images as well as the varying levels of emotional intensity portrayed in the images. Confounders like image classification and perceived emotion intensity were controled. Among other hypothesis, the primary hypothesis which posited that facial mimicry would happen to participants who are observing nonrealistic images as well as realistic, was supported by the results with a not found effect size. The authors suggest that participants mimicked mouth expressions most significantly. This overview provides a concise synthesis of the most relevant results. For more details, please refer to the article page.

To use emotional contagion, mouth expressions are the strongest trigger. Emotional contagion can come from non-photographic faces like paintings and sculptings.

Achour-Benallegue, A., Amarantini, D., Paubel, P.-V., Pelletier, J., & Kaminski, G. (2021). Facial reactions to face representations in art: An electromyography study. Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts. Advance online publication.

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