Do facial cues of body weight influence perceptions of happy and sad facial expressions? Evidence from an Arab sample

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Description: Facial expressions of emotion play an important role in social interactions. Recent work has suggested that experimentally increasing body-weight cues makes faces displaying happy expressions look happier and makes faces displaying sad expressions look sadder. These results were interpreted as evidence that a ‘heavy people are happier’ stereotype influences emotion perception. Because this original study was carried out at a university in the USA, and emotion perceptions can differ across cultures, we undertook a conceptual replication of this study in an Arab sample. We found that experimentally increasing body-weight cues made faces displaying happy expressions look significantly happier, but did not make faces displaying sad expressions look significantly sadder. These results present partial support for the proposal that a ‘heavy people are happier’ stereotype influences emotion perception and that people integrate information from face shape and facial expressions in person perception.

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