Event Title

Artistic Expression of Emotion

Major

Psychology

Faculty Mentor

Whitney L. Heppner

Abstract

Research suggests that the expression of basic emotions is fairly universal (Ekman & Oster, 1979). Six basic emotions -- anger, disgust, fear, happiness, sadness, and surprise--have been shown to be understood in varying geographic locations and cultural orientations, including China, Mexico, and even an African tribe separated from the rest of the world. (Ekman & Friesen, 1971). To demonstrate this universality in emotions, participants are typically asked to judge photographs of other people expressing emotion using the facial muscles. The present study attempts to provide additional support for universality of emotional expression but to do so using an innovative methodology. Specifically, art students (N=22) drew multiple sketches of the same neutral face with varying emotional expressions. The art students' sketches will be analyzed for the presence of action units typical of the six universal emotions. It is hypothesized that, more than simply being able to passively recognize the expression of basic emotions from photographs, in fact people actively conceptualize and artistically represent basic emotions in a similar, universal way, and that these active representations may alter people's mood states. Discussion will focus on the application of this innovative methodology in future research and applied domains, as well as the implications this methodology has for emotions research more broadly.

Session Name:

Arts and Icons: Creation and Expression in Comedia, Media, Art and Literature

Start Date

10-4-2015 1:15 PM

End Date

10-4-2015 2:15 PM

Location

HSB 209

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Apr 10th, 1:15 PM Apr 10th, 2:15 PM

Artistic Expression of Emotion

HSB 209

Research suggests that the expression of basic emotions is fairly universal (Ekman & Oster, 1979). Six basic emotions -- anger, disgust, fear, happiness, sadness, and surprise--have been shown to be understood in varying geographic locations and cultural orientations, including China, Mexico, and even an African tribe separated from the rest of the world. (Ekman & Friesen, 1971). To demonstrate this universality in emotions, participants are typically asked to judge photographs of other people expressing emotion using the facial muscles. The present study attempts to provide additional support for universality of emotional expression but to do so using an innovative methodology. Specifically, art students (N=22) drew multiple sketches of the same neutral face with varying emotional expressions. The art students' sketches will be analyzed for the presence of action units typical of the six universal emotions. It is hypothesized that, more than simply being able to passively recognize the expression of basic emotions from photographs, in fact people actively conceptualize and artistically represent basic emotions in a similar, universal way, and that these active representations may alter people's mood states. Discussion will focus on the application of this innovative methodology in future research and applied domains, as well as the implications this methodology has for emotions research more broadly.