Deciphering Facial Expressions: factors that affect emotion recognition


  • Sreeja Tipirneni Friendswood High School
  • Dr. Stephanie Leal Rice University



Emotion Recognition, Demographics, Age, Gender, Education Level


Emotional perception is the ability to recognize and identify people’s emotional expressions. This study aims to evaluate the accuracy in identification of basic emotions through facial expression, and if the ability to correctly detect emotional expressions is affected by factors such as age, gender, fitness, or education level. We also examined people's ability to correctly identify basic emotions with and without facial coverings, a new normal during the COVID-19 pandemic. Finally, people's ability to identify basic and compound emotions were compared. A google form was used to collect anonymous survey data from 415 participants, which included informed consent, demographic, and face stimuli with various emotional expressions to identify. It was found that basic emotions were easily recognized across all demographic groups. However, faces with facial coverings significantly decreased the participants' ability to identify basic emotions. Compound emotions were more difficult to recognize compared to basic emotions. The influence of age, education, and fitness in the accuracy of recognizing compound emotions varied for each emotion. Some emotions such as Cruelty were better recognized by the 0-20 age group while the 60+ aged participants were more accurate in recognizing emotions like Devastation. Some compound emotions such as Empathy were especially hard to perceive compared to others, suggesting that more cues may be required to identify such emotions. Additional research to elucidate the misclassified compound emotions may help us better understand emotional perception.


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How to Cite

Tipirneni, S., & Leal, S. (2023). Deciphering Facial Expressions: factors that affect emotion recognition. Journal of Student Research, 11(1).



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