Scientific journal

New Psychological Research

Nikitina E.A. Perception of emotions by faces in ontogeny

Elena A. Nikitina, PhD (Psychology), researcher, Institute of Psychology, Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow, Russia; 129366, Russia, Moscow, Yaroslavskaya str., 13/1; associate professor, Moscow Institute of Psychoanalysis, Moscow, Russia; 121170, Russia, Moscow, Kutuzovsky av., 34, bld. 14;

The article provides an overview of studies on the development of the ability to perceive emotions by faces in ontogeny from infancy to old age. The ability to adequately read the emotional state and intentions of another person by their face is the basis of building successful social interactions throughout a person’s life. Numerous studies confirm the ability of very young children to distinguish facial expressions, however, up to 8 months of age, we can only talk about the differentiation of visual stimuli. By the end of the 1st year of life, a connection is revealed between the sign of the emotion observed by the child and the characteristics of their behavior – positive reactions to a joyful face and avoidance reactions in situations where an adult demonstrates fear, anger or sadness. As the child grows up, his ability to differentiate and understand the meaning of emotions is actively developing, but the ability to verbally designate his own and other people’s feelings fell behind their discrimination. Adults demonstrate high success in subtle differentiation of emotional expressions and their understanding in various conditions of presentation of faces. Only in old age there is a slight decrease in the results of the perception of emotions. The factors that can have a significant impact on the discrimination of facial expressions and recognition of emotions are considered. These factors can be external, that are associated with the features of the model (for example, with the age of the face in the stimulus image or the intensity of emotion, the conditions for presenting stimuli), internal (personal characteristics of the respondent, his own state, stress level), as well as the result of the interaction of the characteristics of the sitter (stimulus) and an observer.


Key words: ontogeny, emotions, emotional expressions, discrimination of emotions, perception of emotions


For citation: Nikitina, E.A. (2022). Perception of emotions by faces in ontogeny. New Psychological Research, No. 3, 23–47. DOI: 10.51217/npsyresearch_2022_02_03_02

keywords: ontogeny, emotions, emotional expressions, discrimination of emotions, perception of emotions

received 29 September 2022

published 29 September 2022

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