Facial redness, expression, and masculinity influence perceptions of anger and health

Cognition and Emotion 32 (1):1-12 (2018)
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Abstract

Past research has found that skin colouration, particularly facial redness, influences the perceived health and emotional state of target individuals. In the current work, we explore several extensions of this past research. In Experiment 1, we manipulated facial redness incrementally on neutral and angry faces and had participants rate each face for anger and health. Different red effects emerged, as perceived anger increased in a linear manner as facial redness increased. Health ratings instead showed a curvilinear trend, as both extreme paleness and redness were rated as less healthy than moderate levels of red. Experiment 2 replicated and extended these findings by manipulating the masculinity of both angry and neutral faces that varied in redness. The results found the effect of red on perceived anger and health was moderated by masculine face structure. Collectively, these results show that facial redness has context dependent effects that vary based on facial expression, appearance, and differentially impact ratings of emotional states and health.

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