Feeling bad and looking worse: negative affect is associated with reduced perceptions of face-healthiness.

Laura Mirams, Ellen Poliakoff, Elizabeth H Zandstra, Marco Hoeksma, Anna Thomas, Wael El-Deredy

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Some people perceive themselves to look more, or less attractive than they are in reality. We investigated the role of emotions in enhancement and derogation effects; specifically, whether the propensity to experience positive and negative emotions affects how healthy we perceive our own face to look and how we judge ourselves against others. A psychophysical method was used to measure healthiness of self-image and social comparisons of healthiness. Participants who self-reported high positive (N = 20) or negative affectivity (N = 20) judged themselves against healthy (red-tinged) and unhealthy looking (green-tinged) versions of their own and stranger's faces. An adaptive staircase procedure was used to measure perceptual thresholds. Participants high in positive affectivity were un-biased in their face health judgement. Participants high in negative affectivity on the other hand, judged themselves as equivalent to less healthy looking versions of their own face and a stranger's face. Affective traits modulated self-image and social comparisons of healthiness. Face health judgement was also related to physical symptom perception and self-esteem; high physical symptom reports were associated a less healthy self-image and high self-reported (but not implicit) self-esteem was associated with more favourable social comparisons of healthiness. Subject to further validation, our novel face health judgement task could have utility as a perceptual measure of well-being. We are currently investigating whether face health judgement is sensitive to laboratory manipulations of mood.
    Original languageEnglish
    Article numbere107912
    JournalPLoS ONE
    Issue number9
    Publication statusPublished - 2014


    • Positive and Negative Affect
    • Emotion
    • Self-image
    • Social Comparisons
    • Health
    • Perception
    • Well-being


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