The Enfacement Illusion Is Not Affected by Negative Facial Expressions
journal contributionposted on 2023-07-26, 13:44 authored by Brianna Beck, Flavia Cardini, Elisabetta Làdavas, Caterina Bertini
Enfacement is an illusion wherein synchronous visual and tactile inputs update the mental representation of one's own face to assimilate another person's face. Emotional facial expressions, serving as communicative signals, may influence enfacement by increasing the observer's motivation to understand the mental state of the expresser. Fearful expressions, in particular, might increase enfacement because they are valuable for adaptive behavior and more strongly represented in somatosensory cortex than other emotions. In the present study, a face was seen being touched at the same time as the participant's own face. This face was either neutral, fearful, or angry. Anger was chosen as an emotional control condition for fear because it is similarly negative but induces less somatosensory resonance, and requires additional knowledge (i.e., contextual information and social contingencies) to effectively guide behavior. We hypothesized that seeing a fearful face (but not an angry one) would increase enfacement because of greater somatosensory resonance. Surprisingly, neither fearful nor angry expressions modulated the degree of enfacement relative to neutral expressions. Synchronous interpersonal visuo-tactile stimulation led to assimilation of the other's face, but this assimilation was not modulated by facial expression processing. This finding suggests that dynamic, multisensory processes of self-face identification operate independently of facial expression processing.
Publication titlePLOS ONE
PublisherPublic Library of Science
- Published version