The effects of facial attractiveness on spontaneous facial mimicry.
thesisposted on 22.05.2021, 17:45 by Katlyn Peck
When individuals are presented with emotional facial expressions they spontaneously react with brief, distinct facial movements that ‘mimic’ the presented faces. While the effects of facial mimicry on emotional perception and social bonding have been well documented, the role of facial attractiveness on the elicitation of facial mimicry is unknown. We hypothesized that facial mimicry would increase with more attractive faces. Facial movements were recorded with electromyography upon presentation of averaged and original stimuli while ratings of attractiveness and intensity were obtained. In line with existing findings, emotionally congruent responses were observed in relevant facial muscle regions. Unexpectedly, the strength of observers’ facial mimicry responses decreased with more averaged faces, despite being rated perceptually as more attractive. These findings suggest that facial attractiveness moderates the degree of facial mimicry muscle movements elicited in observers. The relationship between averageness, attractiveness and mimicry is discussed in light of this counterintuitive finding.