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Pupillary contagion is independent of the emotional expression of the face

Thomas Carsten (UGent) , Charlotte Desmet (UGent) , Ruth Krebs (UGent) and Marcel Brass (UGent)
(2019) EMOTION. 19(8). p.1343-1352
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  • REMOTIVATE (Reward revisited: Towards a comprehensive understanding of motivational influences on human cognition (ERC StG REMOTIVATE))
Abstract
The concept of pupillary contagion refers to the automatic imitation of observed pupil size and reflects shared autonomic arousal. Previous studies linked the experience of sadness to changes in pupil size. Accordingly, Harrison, Singer, Rotshtein, Dolan and Critchley found evidence for pupillary contagion when the observed face expresses sadness, but not for neutral, happy or angry expressions [Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, 1(1), 5–17. (2006)]. However, differences in eye movements might have influenced previous results. Furthermore, the relatively small sample size of the study merits additional replication. In the current study, we modified the previous experimental design (Harrison et al., 2006) by requiring high attention towards the eye region of the face, which minimized differences in eye movements between facial expressions. In doing so, we demonstrate that the degree of pupillary contagion is independent of the observed emotional expression. Instead, pupil size and emotional expression of the model independently contribute to the observer’s pupil size. The role of pupillary contagion for social communication is discussed.
Keywords
autonomic contagion, empathy, eye tracking, facial expression, pupil, LOCUS-COERULEUS, ANGER SUPERIORITY, JOINT ATTENTION, SIZE, AMYGDALA, EMPATHY, TEMPERATURE, PERCEPTION, DYNAMICS, INCREASE

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Citation

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MLA
Carsten, Thomas, et al. “Pupillary Contagion Is Independent of the Emotional Expression of the Face.” EMOTION, vol. 19, no. 8, 2019, pp. 1343–52.
APA
Carsten, T., Desmet, C., Krebs, R., & Brass, M. (2019). Pupillary contagion is independent of the emotional expression of the face. EMOTION, 19(8), 1343–1352.
Chicago author-date
Carsten, Thomas, Charlotte Desmet, Ruth Krebs, and Marcel Brass. 2019. “Pupillary Contagion Is Independent of the Emotional Expression of the Face.” EMOTION 19 (8): 1343–52.
Chicago author-date (all authors)
Carsten, Thomas, Charlotte Desmet, Ruth Krebs, and Marcel Brass. 2019. “Pupillary Contagion Is Independent of the Emotional Expression of the Face.” EMOTION 19 (8): 1343–1352.
Vancouver
1.
Carsten T, Desmet C, Krebs R, Brass M. Pupillary contagion is independent of the emotional expression of the face. EMOTION. 2019;19(8):1343–52.
IEEE
[1]
T. Carsten, C. Desmet, R. Krebs, and M. Brass, “Pupillary contagion is independent of the emotional expression of the face,” EMOTION, vol. 19, no. 8, pp. 1343–1352, 2019.
@article{8584777,
  abstract     = {The concept of pupillary contagion refers to the automatic imitation of observed pupil size and reflects shared autonomic arousal. Previous studies linked the experience of sadness to changes in pupil size. Accordingly, Harrison, Singer, Rotshtein, Dolan and Critchley found evidence for pupillary contagion when the observed face expresses sadness, but not for neutral, happy or angry expressions [Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, 1(1), 5–17. (2006)]. However, differences in eye movements might have influenced previous results. Furthermore, the relatively small sample size of the study merits additional replication. In the current study, we modified the previous experimental design (Harrison et al., 2006) by requiring high attention towards the eye region of the face, which minimized differences in eye movements between facial expressions. In doing so, we demonstrate that the degree of pupillary contagion is independent of the observed emotional expression. Instead, pupil size and emotional expression of the model independently contribute to the observer’s pupil size. The role of pupillary contagion for social communication is discussed.},
  author       = {Carsten, Thomas and Desmet, Charlotte and Krebs, Ruth and Brass, Marcel},
  issn         = {1528-3542},
  journal      = {EMOTION},
  keywords     = {autonomic contagion,empathy,eye tracking,facial expression,pupil,LOCUS-COERULEUS,ANGER SUPERIORITY,JOINT ATTENTION,SIZE,AMYGDALA,EMPATHY,TEMPERATURE,PERCEPTION,DYNAMICS,INCREASE},
  language     = {eng},
  number       = {8},
  pages        = {1343--1352},
  title        = {Pupillary contagion is independent of the emotional expression of the face},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/emo0000503},
  volume       = {19},
  year         = {2019},
}

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