Emotion Perception and Social Inferences

Before others’ expressions of emotion can affect us, we must first perceive and recognize them. We study how the perception of others’ (emotional) behaviour is shaped by social factors (e.g., power, narcissism, culture). Once they have been perceived, emotional expressions may trigger inferences about the person expressing the emotion (e.g., dominance, trustworthiness), but also about the social situation in which the emotion is expressed (e.g., cooperative, competitive). The study of such inferential processes sheds light on the basic ways in which emotions can exert social influence by providing important social information to observers.

Sample publications:

Van Kleef, G. A. (2010). The emerging view of emotion as social information. Social and Personality Psychology Compass, 4/5, 331-343.

Van Doorn, E. A., Van Kleef, G. A., & Van der Pligt, J. (2015). Deriving meaning from others’ emotions: Attribution, appraisal, and the use of emotions as social information. Frontiers in Psychology, 6(1077), 1-9.

Heerdink, M. W., Van Kleef, G. A., Homan, A. C., & Fischer, A. H. (2015). Emotional expressions as cues of rejection and acceptance: Evidence from the affect misattribution paradigm. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 56, 60-68.

Van Doorn, E. A., Heerdink, M. W., & Van Kleef, G. A. (2012). Emotion and the construal of social situations: Inferences of cooperation versus competition from expressions of anger, happiness and disappointment. Cognition and Emotion, 26, 3, 426-441.

Fang, X., Van Kleef, G. A., & Sauter, D. A. (2019). Revisiting cultural differences in emotion perception between Easterners and Westerners: Chinese perceivers are accurate, but see additional non-intended emotions in negative facial expressions. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 82, 152-159.

Chen, J., Nevicka, B., Homan, A. C., & Van Kleef, G. A. (under review). How narcissism shapes responses to antisocial and prosocial behavior: Hypo-responsiveness or hyper-responsiveness?