Is the lady delighted or horrified? The expressions of exalted contemporaries like this supporter of Donald Trump are sometimes difficult to interpret.
Violent emotions are not as easy to interpret as they seem. They are actually interpreted incorrectly, as a study by Max Planck researchers from Frankfurt shows.
Je more resounding laughter, the harder the crying, the easier it is for the other person to understand that you are happy or sad – or not? Researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Empirical Aesthetics in Frankfurt, together with colleagues from New York, discovered that the relationship is more complicated. They played non-verbal sounds such as screams, sighs and moans to test subjects and determined how well the test subjects could interpret these emotions.
Amazingly, it wasn’t the most intense feelings that were best interpreted. They even tended to lead to misunderstandings, as, for example, emotions such as surprise and triumph could no longer be kept apart with certainty. It was also not always clear whether the signal was positive or negative. First author Natalie Holz finds this plausible from a psychological point of view: “In extreme situations it may be more important to recognize the relevance and to be alarmed than to identify the nuanced emotional meaning.”