Recognizing facial movements: better for ourselves?

27 07 2011

An interesting summary¬†of research on facial movement recognition today in the Guardian which relates to social psychology. A very counterintuitive finding that we’re better at recognizing our own facial movements than those of friends. It’s counterintuitive because we rarely see our own facial movements (except in mirrors), but we see those of friends much much more.

A couple thoughts on this:

1. When interacting with friends, we’re likely cognitively busy with lots of other issues such as thinking about what they’re talking about, what we’re feeling about what they’re saying, what their internal experience of us is, impression management, etc. That busyness likely makes us less attentive to the actual facial movements they are making.

2. We likely have a fair amount of proprioception going on that makes us keenly aware of what our faces are doing.

3. We likely actively monitor our own expressions (as part of impression management?) to help manage what we’re communicating to others while we’re in face-to-face interactions. Therefore we may have more attention devoted to self facial movements than those of others.


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