- Face the noise: Embodied responses to nonverbal vocalizations of discrete emotions
- Journal of Personality and Social Psychology
- Volume | Issue number
- 102 | 4
- Pages (from-to)
- Document type
- Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences (FMG)
- Psychology Research Institute (PsyRes)
Extensive prior research has shown that the perception of an emotional facial expression automatically elicits a corresponding facial expression in the observer. Theories of embodied emotion, however, suggest that such reactions might also occur across expressive channels, because simulation is based on integrated motoric and affective representations of that emotion. In the present studies, we examined this idea by focusing on facial and experiential reactions to nonverbal emotion vocalizations. In Studies 1 and 2, we showed that both hearing and reproducing vocalizations of anger, disgust, happiness, and sadness resulted in specific facial behaviors, as well as congruent self-reported emotions (Study 2). In Studies 3 and 4, we showed that the inhibition of congruent facial actions impaired listeners' processing of emotion vocalizations (Study 3), as well as their experiences of a concordant subjective state (Study 4). Results support the idea that cross-channel simulations of others' states serve facilitative functions similar to more strict imitations of observed expressive behavior, suggesting flexibility in the motoric and affective systems involved in emotion processing and interpersonal emotion transfer. We discuss implications for embodiment research and the social consequences of expressing and matching emotions across nonverbal channels.
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