Facial expressions of emotions: a methodological contribution to the study of spontaneous and dynamic emotional faces


  • This research was supported by a grant from Programme Cognitique.


This paper addresses methodological considerations relevant to nonverbal communication of emotion research. In order to gather more information about the interpretations given to spontaneous and dynamic facial expressions, two main objectives guide the present exploratory research. The first one is to obtain naturalistic recordings of emotional expressions in realistic settings that are ‘emotional enough’. The second one is to address the issue of dynamic judgments of facial expressions of emotion, that is real-time emotional recognition. An innovative device has been created for this specific purpose. Results show that, although the social nature of the eliciting situation is minimal, the experience of some emotions is reflected on the encoders' faces while being covertly videotaped in natural conditions. Moreover, results show the utility to investigate dynamic emotional judgments of spontaneous and dynamic expressions since observers seem to be sensitive to the slightest facial expression change in making their emotional judgments. A promising paradigm is thus proposed for the study of the dynamics of real-time nonverbal emotional interaction. Copyright © 2007 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.