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Published May 14, 2010 | Published + Supplemental Material
Journal Article Open

Associations between Feeling and Judging the Emotions of Happiness and Fear: Findings from a Large-Scale Field Experiment


Background: How do we recognize emotions from other people? One possibility is that our own emotional experiences guide us in the online recognition of emotion in others. A distinct but related possibility is that emotion experience helps us to learn how to recognize emotions in childhood. Methodology/Principal Findings: We explored these ideas in a large sample of people (N = 4,608) ranging from 5 to over 50 years old. Participants were asked to rate the intensity of emotional experience in their own lives, as well as to perform a task of facial emotion recognition. Those who reported more intense experience of fear and happiness were significantly more accurate (closer to prototypical) in recognizing facial expressions of fear and happiness, respectively, and intense experience of fear was associated also with more accurate recognition of surprised and happy facial expressions. The associations held across all age groups. Conclusions: These results suggest that the intensity of one's own emotional experience of fear and happiness correlates with the ability to recognize these emotions in others, and demonstrate such an association as early as age 5.

Additional Information

© 2010 Buchanan 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. Received: December 22, 2009; Accepted: April 20, 2010; Published: May 14, 2010. Editor: Jan Lauwereyns, Kyushu University, Japan. We thank the staff of the California Science Center for their extensive help in setting up this study and collecting the data for it. Funding: Goose Bumps!: The Science of Fear was developed by the California Science Center with support from National Science Foundation Grant #ESI-0515470. R.A. was also supported by National Institute of Mental Health Grant 1 R01 MH067681. T.W.B. was supported by a National Alliance for Research on Schizophrenia and Depression Young Investigator Award. The authors thank the staff of the California Science Center for their extensive help in setting up this study and collecting the data for it. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript. Author Contributions: Conceived and designed the experiments: RA. Performed the experiments: DB. Analyzed the data: TWB. Wrote the paper: TWB RA.

Attached Files

Published - Buchanan2010p10194PLoS_ONE.pdf

Supplemental Material - journal.pone.0010640.s001.tif

Supplemental Material - journal.pone.0010640.s002.tif

Supplemental Material - journal.pone.0010640.s003.doc


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