What Factors Affect Emotional Perception?m.wisegeek.com
Emotional perception refers to a person's ability to read nonverbal language, such as facial expressions and body language in order to understand other people's emotions. For the most part, emotional perception is an inborn trait, but sometimes an individual's emotional perception can be stunted by traumatic experiences or neurological disorders. People's ability to understand emotions may also fluctuate depending on their own emotional states.
Research shows that emotional perception, especially of facial expressions, is common among people of all cultural backgrounds. In other words, people shown a photograph of a smiling woman will identify the woman as experiencing happiness regardless of their native cultures. This research indicates that emotional perception is largely an inborn characteristic rather than a learned behavior.
There is some variation among people's ability to recognize subtleties in emotion, with some people being especially perceptive and others less so, but major deviations may be due to other underlying problems. Schizophrenia, for instance, is a psychological disorder that disrupts nearly all areas of a person's perception, including emotional perception. Those who have autism spectrum disorders, such as Asperger's syndrome, may seem to lack the intuitive understanding of emotions shared by the majority of the population.
In some cases, people who have had traumatic experiences in childhood may also have a skewed perception of others' feelings. For instance, children who have been abused may develop a heightened perception of anger as a defense mechanism that can help them avoid the abuser when he or she is angry. In other situations, victims of abuse may misinterpret expressions of neutral or mixed emotions as expressions of anger.
Within individuals, emotional perception can vary depending on a number of factors, especially mood. Happiness generally increases a person's awareness of details in his or her environment, including clues about other people's feelings, while sadness or depression decreases attention to detail. Some research also indicates that Botox (r) injections reduce a person's emotional perception. Botox (r), an injection that reduces wrinkles by paralyzing certain facial muscles, keeps people from mimicking the facial expressions of others, which is one way that people pick up on the emotions of others.
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