Date Thesis Awarded


Access Type

Honors Thesis -- Access Restricted On-Campus Only

Degree Name

Bachelors of Arts (BA)




Thomas Daniel

Committee Members

Christopher Conway

Jaime Settle


Do we see every facial expression from people with whom we come into contact? By replicating an experiment by Porter, ten Brinke, and Wallace (2011), this scaled-down study examined if high-intensity images elicit incorrect emotional “leakage” in participants’ facial expressions. The idea facial expressions may not be fully consciously controlled emerged from Darwin’s (1872) “inhibition hypothesis.” Some facial expressions are too intense to voluntarily control, and thus cannot be fully controlled at all times. In the present study, 21 participants were asked to perform facial expressions (reflecting happiness, sadness, and fear) while viewing a series of images that varied in emotional valence. Some of the images were congruent with the expression the participant was instructed to maintain, while others were incongruent. Video recordings of each participant’s facial expressions were then examined to see if any facial expression “leakage” occurred while they attempted to mask emotions during the study (189 total expressions and 28,350 individual slides). Statistically significant results supported the hypotheses and past research: facial expression leakage occurs more when viewing incongruent images with masked expressions than when viewing congruent images with genuine expressions.

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