Judging Approachability on the Face of It: The Influence of Face and Body Expressions on the Perception of Approachability

Megan L. Willis*, Romina Palermo, Darren Burke

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    56 Citations (Scopus)


    The aim of the current study was to examine how emotional expressions displayed by the face and body influence the decision to approach or avoid another individual. In Experiment 1, we examined approachability judgments provided to faces and bodies presented in isolation that were displaying angry, happy, and neutral expressions. Results revealed that angry expressions were associated with the most negative approachability ratings, for both faces and bodies. The effect of happy expressions was shown to differ for faces and bodies, with happy faces judged more approachable than neutral faces, whereas neutral bodies were considered more approachable than happy bodies. In Experiment 2, we sought to examine how we integrate emotional expressions depicted in the face and body when judging the approachability of face-body composite images. Our results revealed that approachability judgments given to face-body composites were driven largely by the facial expression. In Experiment 3, we then aimed to determine how the categorization of body expression is affected by facial expressions. This experiment revealed that body expressions were less accurately recognized when the accompanying facial expression was incongruent than when neutral. These findings suggest that the meaning extracted from a body expression is critically dependent on the valence of the associated facial expression.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)514-523
    Number of pages10
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - Jun 2011


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