Place: 4274 Chamberlin (refreshments will be served)
Speaker: Paula M. Niedenthal, UW Department of Psychology
Abstract: Theories of embodied emotion suggest new ways to model the recognition of facial expression. Behavioral and neuroimaging studies indicate that the recognition of facial expressions of emotion, and in particular the elusive smile, involves the (re)production of the expression as well as of the corresponding emotion, or parts of it, in the self. In the present talk, I introduce a new model, The Simulation of Smiles Model (SIMS, Niedenthal et al., BBS, 2010). The SIMS relies on a social-functional typology of smiles. Accordingly, I first present research that seeks to validate the typology. The SIMS also outlines specific roles for facial mimicry and eye contact in representing smile meaning. Recent empirical evidence in favor of these roles is presented. Finally, the SIMS leaves room for the use of perceptual and conceptual processes in interpreting facial expression. I present research supportive of the hypothesis that the interpretation of smile meaning relies on prior beliefs and stereotypes when facial mimicry does not occur. Results of a recent study on smiling behavior from 9 different countries provides the basis for predictions about moderation by culture of the basic processes outlined in SIMS.