2014-02-04Zeitschriftenartikel DOI: 10.3389/fpsyg.2014.00030
Facial age affects emotional expression decoding
Facial expressions convey important information on emotional states of our interaction partners. However, in interactions between younger and older adults, there is evidence for a reduced ability to accurately decode emotional facial expressions. Previous studies have often followed up this phenomenon by examining the effect of the observers' age. However, decoding emotional faces is also likely to be influenced by stimulus features, and age-related changes in the face such as wrinkles and folds may render facial expressions of older adults harder to decode. In this paper, we review theoretical frameworks and empirical findings on age effects on decoding emotional expressions, with an emphasis on age-of-face effects. We conclude that the age of the face plays an important role for facial expression decoding. Lower expressivity, age-related changes in the face, less elaborated emotion schemas for older faces, negative attitudes toward older adults, and different visual scan patterns and neural processing of older than younger faces may lower decoding accuracy for older faces. Furthermore, age-related stereotypes and age-related changes in the face may bias the attribution of specific emotions such as sadness to older faces.
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