When it come to the facial expressions – Seeing may be believing, but new research suggests that believing is seeing too, at least when it comes to perceiving other people’s emotions.

The way we initially think about the emotions of others biases how we interpret, and remember, their facial expressions. Once we interpret someone’s expression as either angry or happy (whether or not this is how they really feel), we later remember it that way. This is the source of MANY misunderstandings!

Psychologist Piotr Winkielman says, “Do we see reality as it is, or is what we see influenced by our preconceptions? Our findings indicate that what we think has a noticeable effect on our perceptions.”

According to psychologist Jamin Halberstadt their study addresses an age-old question. He says, “We imagine our emotional expressions as unambiguous ways of communicating how we’re feeling, but in real social interactions, facial expressions are blends of multiple emotions. They are open to interpretation. This means that two people can have different recollections about the same emotional episode, yet both be correct about what they ‘saw.’ So when my wife remembers my smirk as cynicism, she is right: her explanation of the expression at the time biased her perception of it. But it is also true that, had she explained my expression as empathy, I wouldn’t be sleeping on the couch.”

And this is a real problem. According to Halberstadt, “The more we seek meaning in other emotions, the less accurate we are in remembering them.”

We know what emotion the attendees at our upcoming Stargate Conference are going to experience: Amazement. Come see for yourself, the time is right!

Art credit: Dreamstime.com

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