All ETDs from UAB

Advisory Committee Chair

Fred Biasini

Advisory Committee Members

Maria Hopkins

Frank Amthor

Document Type

Thesis

Date of Award

2019

Degree Name by School

Master of Arts (MA) College of Arts and Sciences

Abstract

Six facial expressions of emotion (anger, disgust, fear, happiness, sadness, and surprise) have been identified as panculturally recognizable. Though recognition of those facial expressions appears to be developmentally innate, there is variation in emotion recognition between individuals. Specifically, those with autism spectrum disorder often have difficulty with this skill, contributing to issues in their social interactions. Another important skill for social interactions is identifying when someone feels more than one emotion at a time, and some evidence suggests that those emotional states are expressed with panculturally recognizable affects, termed compound expressions. Yet another skill involves determining the intensity of someone’s emotions, and research has suggested developmental consistency in that ability as well, though the topic has recently been neglected. Grimace is a web component that illustrates the six universal facial expressions at a considerable range of intensity, and Grimace can create compound expressions with two emotions at arbitrary intensities of either. The present study showed that young adults are better than chance at recognizing Grimace’s compound emotions, and there was agreement on the emotional intensity expressed by Grimace’s faces. Grimace also created recognizable expressions of each pancultural emotion except disgust, which indicates that it may have limited use for studying all universal facial expressions. However, the results of the present study, as well as Grimace’s flexibility, simplicity, and intuitive design, make it a strong potential tool for examining questions about emotion recognition in populations that have difficulty with the more nuanced aspects of this skill, such as people with autism.

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