Emotion in stories

Facial EMG evidence for both mental simulation and moral evaluation

B. 't Hart, M.E. Struiksma, A. van Boxtel, J.J.A. van Berkum

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

7 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

Facial electromyography research shows that corrugator supercilii (“frowning muscle”) activity tracks the emotional valence of linguistic stimuli. Grounded or embodied accounts of language processing take such activity to reflect the simulation or “reenactment” of emotion, as part of the retrieval of word meaning (e.g., of “furious”) and/or of building a situation model (e.g., for “Mark is furious”). However, the same muscle also expresses our primary emotional evaluation of things we encounter. Language-driven affective simulation can easily be at odds with the reader's affective evaluation of what language describes (e.g., when we like Mark being furious). To examine what happens in such cases, we independently manipulated simulation valence and moral evaluative valence in short narratives. Participants first read about characters behaving in a morally laudable or objectionable fashion: this immediately led to corrugator activity reflecting positive or negative affect. Next, and critically, a positive or negative event befell these same characters. Here, the corrugator response did not track the valence of the event, but reflected both simulation and moral evaluation. This highlights the importance of unpacking coarse notions of affective meaning in language processing research into components that reflect simulation and evaluation. Our results also call for a re-evaluation of the interpretation of corrugator EMG, as well as other affect-related facial muscles and other peripheral physiological measures, as unequivocal indicators of simulation. Research should explore how such measures behave in richer and more ecologically valid language processing, such as narrative; refining our understanding of simulation within a framework of grounded language comprehension.
Original languageEnglish
Article number613
Number of pages13
JournalFrontiers in Psychology
Volume9
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2018

Fingerprint

Language
Facial Muscles
Muscles
Electromyography
Linguistics

Keywords

  • CHARACTERS
  • CONTEXT
  • EMBODIMENT
  • EMPATHY
  • IDENTIFICATION
  • LANGUAGE COMPREHENSION
  • MEMORY
  • OTHERS
  • SCHADENFREUDE
  • SYMPATHY
  • embodiment and grounded cognition
  • emotion
  • evaluation
  • facial EMG
  • language comprehension
  • language processing
  • narrative comprehension

Cite this

@article{f0e9b0d8a3dc4e1bb7407a5336df9b9e,
title = "Emotion in stories: Facial EMG evidence for both mental simulation and moral evaluation",
abstract = "Facial electromyography research shows that corrugator supercilii (“frowning muscle”) activity tracks the emotional valence of linguistic stimuli. Grounded or embodied accounts of language processing take such activity to reflect the simulation or “reenactment” of emotion, as part of the retrieval of word meaning (e.g., of “furious”) and/or of building a situation model (e.g., for “Mark is furious”). However, the same muscle also expresses our primary emotional evaluation of things we encounter. Language-driven affective simulation can easily be at odds with the reader's affective evaluation of what language describes (e.g., when we like Mark being furious). To examine what happens in such cases, we independently manipulated simulation valence and moral evaluative valence in short narratives. Participants first read about characters behaving in a morally laudable or objectionable fashion: this immediately led to corrugator activity reflecting positive or negative affect. Next, and critically, a positive or negative event befell these same characters. Here, the corrugator response did not track the valence of the event, but reflected both simulation and moral evaluation. This highlights the importance of unpacking coarse notions of affective meaning in language processing research into components that reflect simulation and evaluation. Our results also call for a re-evaluation of the interpretation of corrugator EMG, as well as other affect-related facial muscles and other peripheral physiological measures, as unequivocal indicators of simulation. Research should explore how such measures behave in richer and more ecologically valid language processing, such as narrative; refining our understanding of simulation within a framework of grounded language comprehension.",
keywords = "CHARACTERS, CONTEXT, EMBODIMENT, EMPATHY, IDENTIFICATION, LANGUAGE COMPREHENSION, MEMORY, OTHERS, SCHADENFREUDE, SYMPATHY, embodiment and grounded cognition, emotion, evaluation, facial EMG, language comprehension, language processing, narrative comprehension",
author = "{'t Hart}, B. and M.E. Struiksma and {van Boxtel}, A. and {van Berkum}, J.J.A.",
year = "2018",
doi = "10.3389/fpsyg.2018.00613",
language = "English",
volume = "9",
journal = "Frontiers in Psychology",
issn = "1664-1078",
publisher = "Frontiers Media S.A.",

}

Emotion in stories : Facial EMG evidence for both mental simulation and moral evaluation. / 't Hart, B.; Struiksma, M.E.; van Boxtel, A.; van Berkum, J.J.A.

In: Frontiers in Psychology, Vol. 9, 613, 2018.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

TY - JOUR

T1 - Emotion in stories

T2 - Facial EMG evidence for both mental simulation and moral evaluation

AU - 't Hart, B.

AU - Struiksma, M.E.

AU - van Boxtel, A.

AU - van Berkum, J.J.A.

PY - 2018

Y1 - 2018

N2 - Facial electromyography research shows that corrugator supercilii (“frowning muscle”) activity tracks the emotional valence of linguistic stimuli. Grounded or embodied accounts of language processing take such activity to reflect the simulation or “reenactment” of emotion, as part of the retrieval of word meaning (e.g., of “furious”) and/or of building a situation model (e.g., for “Mark is furious”). However, the same muscle also expresses our primary emotional evaluation of things we encounter. Language-driven affective simulation can easily be at odds with the reader's affective evaluation of what language describes (e.g., when we like Mark being furious). To examine what happens in such cases, we independently manipulated simulation valence and moral evaluative valence in short narratives. Participants first read about characters behaving in a morally laudable or objectionable fashion: this immediately led to corrugator activity reflecting positive or negative affect. Next, and critically, a positive or negative event befell these same characters. Here, the corrugator response did not track the valence of the event, but reflected both simulation and moral evaluation. This highlights the importance of unpacking coarse notions of affective meaning in language processing research into components that reflect simulation and evaluation. Our results also call for a re-evaluation of the interpretation of corrugator EMG, as well as other affect-related facial muscles and other peripheral physiological measures, as unequivocal indicators of simulation. Research should explore how such measures behave in richer and more ecologically valid language processing, such as narrative; refining our understanding of simulation within a framework of grounded language comprehension.

AB - Facial electromyography research shows that corrugator supercilii (“frowning muscle”) activity tracks the emotional valence of linguistic stimuli. Grounded or embodied accounts of language processing take such activity to reflect the simulation or “reenactment” of emotion, as part of the retrieval of word meaning (e.g., of “furious”) and/or of building a situation model (e.g., for “Mark is furious”). However, the same muscle also expresses our primary emotional evaluation of things we encounter. Language-driven affective simulation can easily be at odds with the reader's affective evaluation of what language describes (e.g., when we like Mark being furious). To examine what happens in such cases, we independently manipulated simulation valence and moral evaluative valence in short narratives. Participants first read about characters behaving in a morally laudable or objectionable fashion: this immediately led to corrugator activity reflecting positive or negative affect. Next, and critically, a positive or negative event befell these same characters. Here, the corrugator response did not track the valence of the event, but reflected both simulation and moral evaluation. This highlights the importance of unpacking coarse notions of affective meaning in language processing research into components that reflect simulation and evaluation. Our results also call for a re-evaluation of the interpretation of corrugator EMG, as well as other affect-related facial muscles and other peripheral physiological measures, as unequivocal indicators of simulation. Research should explore how such measures behave in richer and more ecologically valid language processing, such as narrative; refining our understanding of simulation within a framework of grounded language comprehension.

KW - CHARACTERS

KW - CONTEXT

KW - EMBODIMENT

KW - EMPATHY

KW - IDENTIFICATION

KW - LANGUAGE COMPREHENSION

KW - MEMORY

KW - OTHERS

KW - SCHADENFREUDE

KW - SYMPATHY

KW - embodiment and grounded cognition

KW - emotion

KW - evaluation

KW - facial EMG

KW - language comprehension

KW - language processing

KW - narrative comprehension

U2 - 10.3389/fpsyg.2018.00613

DO - 10.3389/fpsyg.2018.00613

M3 - Article

VL - 9

JO - Frontiers in Psychology

JF - Frontiers in Psychology

SN - 1664-1078

M1 - 613

ER -