Scientific article
Open access

Subtly Different Positive Emotions Can Be Distinguished by Their Facial Expressions

Published inSocial Psychological and Personality Science, vol. 2, no. 3, p. 262-271
Publication date2011

Positive emotions are crucial to social relationships and social interaction. Although smiling is a frequently studied facial action, investigations of positive emotional expressions are underrepresented in the literature. This may be partly because of the assumption that all positive emotions share the smile as a common signal but lack specific facial configurations. The present study investigated prototypical expressions of four positive emotions—interest, pride, pleasure, and joy. The Facial Action Coding System was used to microcode facial expression of representative samples of these emotions taken from the Geneva Multimodal Emotion Portrayal corpus. The data showed that the frequency and duration of several action units differed between emotions, indicating that actors did not use the same pattern of expression to encode them. The authors argue that an appraisal perspective is suitable to describe how subtly differentiated positive emotional states differ in their prototypical facial expressions.

  • Appraisal
  • Emotion
  • Facial expression
  • Positive emotions
Research group
Citation (ISO format)
MORTILLARO, Marcello, MEHU, Marc, SCHERER, Klaus R. Subtly Different Positive Emotions Can Be Distinguished by Their Facial Expressions. In: Social Psychological and Personality Science, 2011, vol. 2, n° 3, p. 262–271. doi: 10.1177/1948550610389080
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Article (Published version)
ISSN of the journal1948-5506

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