Sad and Lonely? Sad Mood Suppresses Facial Mimicry

Research paper by Katja U. Likowski, Peter Weyers, Beate Seibt, Christiane Stöhr, Paul Pauli, Andreas Mühlberger

Indexed on: 25 Jan '11Published on: 25 Jan '11Published in: Journal of Nonverbal Behavior


The aim of the current study was to investigate the influence of happy and sad mood on facial muscular reactions to emotional facial expressions. Following film clips intended to induce happy and sad mood states, participants observed faces with happy, sad, angry, and neutral expressions while their facial muscular reactions were recorded electromyografically. Results revealed that after watching the happy clip participants showed congruent facial reactions to all emotional expressions, whereas watching the sad clip led to a general reduction of facial muscular reactions. Results are discussed with respect to the information processing style underlying the lack of mimicry in a sad mood state and also with respect to the consequences for social interactions and for embodiment theories.