BACKGROUND: The modulation hypothesis of facial feedback has not adequately examined how combining facial expressions and bodily postures might influence our experience of emotional stimuli. This pilot study examined a new method for manipulating both face and body together, which is important in furthering our understanding of how face and body interact to influence emotional experiences in the real world.
METHODS: Using a within-subjects design, 30 participants viewed positive film clips under four conditions: (1) positive face with positive body (PP), (2) positive face with neutral body (PN), (3) neutral face with positive body (NP) and (4) neutral face with neutral body (NN). Measures of positive and negative affect were taken before and after each clip, to assess the subjective emotional experience.
RESULTS: Repeated-measures analysis of variance (ANOVA) was conducted to examine differences in the emotional experience under each condition. Post hoc pairwise comparisons demonstrated that positive affect in the PP condition was significantly higher than in the NP and NN conditions. There was no significant difference between the PP and NN conditions.
CONCLUSION: Whilst the study findings are difficult to interpret, this pilot study generated a number of important methodological learnings that are relevant to future research of this kind.