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Compassionate faces: Evidence for distinctive facial expressions associated with specific prosocial motivations

Falconer, CJ; Lobmaier, JS; Christoforou, M; Kamboj, SK; King, JA; Gilbert, P; Brewin, CR; (2019) Compassionate faces: Evidence for distinctive facial expressions associated with specific prosocial motivations. PLoS One , 14 (1) , Article e0210283. 10.1371/journal.pone.0210283. Green open access

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Abstract

Compassion is a complex cognitive, emotional and behavioural process that has important real-world consequences for the self and others. Considering this, it is important to understand how compassion is communicated. The current research investigated the expression and perception of compassion via the face. We generated exemplar images of two compassionate facial expressions induced from two mental imagery tasks with different compassionate motivations (Study 1). Our kind- and empathic compassion faces were perceived differently and the empathic-compassion expression was perceived as best depicting the general definition of compassion (Study 2). Our two composite faces differed in their perceived happiness, kindness, sadness, fear and concern, which speak to their underling motivation and emotional resonance. Finally, both faces were accurately discriminated when presented along a compassion continuum (Study 3). Our results demonstrate two perceptually and functionally distinct facial expressions of compassion, with potentially different consequences for the suffering of others.

Type: Article
Title: Compassionate faces: Evidence for distinctive facial expressions associated with specific prosocial motivations
Location: United States
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0210283
Publisher version: http://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0210283
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright: © 2019 Falconer et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences > Clinical, Edu and Hlth Psychology
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10067074
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