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Differentiation of facial expressions and Russian vowel sounds in the visual-auditory perception: the emotional space of facial expressions

Keywords:

S. G. Korshunova – Senior Research Scientist, Department of Psychology, Lomonosov Moscow State University. E-mail: ksg50@yandex.ru
O. B. Stepanova – Associate Professor, Department of Psychology, Lomonosov Moscow State University. E-mail: psy_stob@mail.ru


The study investigates the visual-auditory perception of emotionality of neutrally spoken vowels and mimic expressions by constructing the emotional space of facial expressions based on subjective discrimination between facial expressions and vowel sounds. Stimuli were 10 vowels [ы], [э], [а], [о], [у], [и], [е], [я], [ё], [ю] of the Russian language, spoken by a female emotionally neutral voice, and photos of a woman's face, representing three levels of intensity (strong, medium, weak) of the six basic emotions (happiness, surprise, fear, sadness, disgust, anger) and neutral expression. Two ways of generating emotions, reproduced by open ("articulated", AE) and closed-mouth ("inarticulate" IAE), were used to control the visible tokens of sounding speech as part of emotional facial expressions. Two sets of individual matrices of subjective differences between faces and vowels were obtained on samples of 104 and 114 students respectively. Coordinates for facial expressions were calculated from the individual matrices of subjective differences by the multidimensional scaling procedure INDSCAL. The hypothesis was tested that emotional spaces for facial expressions in visual-auditory and purely visual perception coincide identically due to emotional content of differential features of vowels and both are 6-dimensional space in which emotional characteristics of tone, intensity and power were measured by angular coordinates. The results are discussed in terms of E.N. Sokolov’s neurophysiological spherical model of space of emotions. As a result of analysis of vocalic profiles of facial expressions the emotional space of visual- auditory perception of facial expressions and neutrally pronounced vowels reproducing the emotional space of purely visual perception was built due to common emotional content of differential features of faces and vowels. Emotional characteristics of tone, intensity and power of faces, expressed through vowels in visual-auditory perception, are represented by the angular coordinates on the basis of linear axes in the general group of 6-dimensional space. Coincidence of emotional spaces in visual-auditory and purely visual perception of facial expressions shows that emotional facial expressions and neutrally pronounced vowels compared to each other on the basis of a common set of emotional characteristics – tone, intensity and power. In terms of E.N. Sokolova’s neurophysiological spherical model of space of emotions it means that emotional facial expressions and emotional content of neutrally pronounced vowel are similarly coded by 6-dimensional vectors of constant length, the components of which are formed by the excitation of neurons that encode mimic and vocalic distinctive features. Emotional content of the distinctive features of Russian vowels can be represented in terms of emotional facial expressions in a similar way.
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