Biology and Philosophy 37 (2):1-20 (2022)

Abstract
Can we read emotions in faces? Many studies suggest that we can, yet skeptics contend that these studies employ methods that unwittingly help subjects in matching faces with emotions. Some studies present subjects with posed faces, which may be more exaggerated than spontaneous ones. And some studies provide subjects with a list of emotion words to choose from, which forces them to interpret faces in specific emotion terms. I argue that the skeptics’ challenge rests on a false assumption: that once subjects leave the lab, they no longer receive help in matching faces with emotions. I contend that people receive as much help in the wild as they do in the lab. People unconsciously amplify their spontaneous expressions in the presence of others, thereby making them easier to read. And people teach children to interpret faces in the same specific emotion terms found in the experimenters’ word lists. I argue that we are good at readings emotions in faces because we can normally count on a little help from our friends.
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DOI 10.1007/s10539-022-09842-5
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The Theory of Moral Sentiments.Adam Smith - 1759 - Dover Publications.
An Argument for Basic Emotions.Paul Ekman - 1992 - Cognition and Emotion 6 (3-4):169-200.

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