Intersecting Identities and Expressions: The Compound Nature of Social Perception

Reginald B. Adams and Anthony J. Nelson

in The Oxford Handbook of Social Neuroscience

Published in print September 2011 | ISBN: 9780195342161
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Library of Psychology

 Intersecting Identities and Expressions: The Compound Nature of Social Perception

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This chapter presents a functional approach to social and emotional perception that extends current models of face processing by accounting for the combinatorial nature of social perception. The face is a rich source of social information that requires integrative processing of multiple cues (e.g., facial expression, eye gaze, facial structure). We have seemingly evolved a distributed perceptual system that maximizes both processing efficiency, and the ability to extract ecologically valid social information from a complex and interactive array of facial cues. Based on the functional approach outlined herein, this chapter underscores some of the basic processes necessary for the perception and understanding of compound social cues in the face.

Keywords: social vision; compound social cues; emotion recognition; eye gaze; face perception; facial identity; facial expression; facial maturity; approach/avoidance motivation; social signals; ecological theory; evolutionary psychology; amygdala; superior tempora

Article.  7839 words. 

Subjects: Psychology ; Cognitive Neuroscience ; Social Psychology

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