Contributions of facial expressions and body language to the rapid perception of dynamic emotions

Laura Martinez, Virginia B. Falvello, Hillel Aviezer, Alexander Todorov

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

74 Scopus citations


Correctly perceiving emotions in others is a crucial part of social interactions. We constructed a set of dynamic stimuli to determine the relative contributions of the face and body to the accurate perception of basic emotions. We also manipulated the length of these dynamic stimuli in order to explore how much information is needed to identify emotions. The findings suggest that even a short exposure time of 250 milliseconds provided enough information to correctly identify an emotion above the chance level. Furthermore, we found that recognition patterns from the face alone and the body alone differed as a function of emotion. These findings highlight the role of the body in emotion perception and suggest an advantage for angry bodies, which, in contrast to all other emotions, were comparable to the recognition rates from the face and may be advantageous for perceiving imminent threat from a distance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)939-952
Number of pages14
JournalCognition and Emotion
Issue number5
StatePublished - Jul 3 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


  • Body perception
  • Emotion
  • Face perception
  • Perception


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