Publication Details

Tobin, A., Favelle, S. & Palermo, R. (2016). Dynamic facial expressions are processed holistically, but not more holistically than static facial expressions. Cognition and Emotion, 30 (6), 1208-1221.


There is evidence that facial expressions are perceived holistically and featurally. The composite task is a direct measure of holistic processing (although the absence of a composite effect implies the use of other types of processing). Most composite task studies have used static images, despite the fact that movement is an important aspect of facial expressions and there is some evidence that movement may facilitate recognition. We created static and dynamic composites, in which emotions were reliably identified from each half of the face. The magnitude of the composite effect was similar for static and dynamic expressions identified from the top half (anger, sadness and surprise) but was reduced in dynamic as compared to static expressions identified from the bottom half (fear, disgust and joy). Thus, any advantage in recognising dynamic over static expressions is not likely to stem from enhanced holistic processing, rather motion may emphasise or disambiguate diagnostic featural information.



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