The Impact of a Stranger’s Emotional Facial Expression on the Perception of His Personality



This study the role of emotional expressions of the sitter’s face in the perception of his personality traits. The scores given by observers on the scales of the “Personality Differential” for images of a calm face and the face of the same sitter, demonstrating six basic emotions, were compared. Forty-nine photographic images of the emotional states of seven sitters included in the RaFD database were used as stimulus material. A total of 193 Moscow university students (66 men and 127 women, mean age 23.3 years) participated in the experiment. A 17% statistically significant change in personality scores was recorded, two-thirds of which tended toward the positive poles of the scales. Changing perceptions of a person’s personality suggests a coherent relationship between emotion modality and personality traits. Each basic expression influences a specific group of 10-15 traits, and in different ways. Each trait relies on an affective configuration with its own specificity. Disgust has the maximum integrative influence on the view of the sitter’s personality. Joy causes extremely high positive changes, while sadness and astonishment cause moderate, symmetrical changes in the ratio of positive and negative shifts. Fear and anger lead to an equilibrium of positive and negative evaluations. The highest volume of trait changes is obtained for the “Activity” factor (A), which is associated mainly with positive shifts, the lowest volume is for the “Evaluation” factor (E), which is, together with the “Strength” factor (S), the main source of negative changes in the sitters’ perception. The volume of affective feature shifts is determined by the morphotype of the face and the individual stylistics of emotion expression. In everyday life, the possibility of affective changes in traits does not violate the general invariance of interpersonal perception.

General Information

Keywords: activity-related experience, quality of motivation, self-determination theory, intrinsic motivation, extrinsic motivation, academic motivation

Journal rubric: Psychology of Perception

Article type: scientific article


Funding. The reported study was funded by Russian Foundation for Basic Research (RFBR), project № 19-013-00557.

Received: 17.10.2021


For citation: Barabanschikov V.A., Zhegallo A.V., Smolny Y.N., Marinova M.M. The Impact of a Stranger’s Emotional Facial Expression on the Perception of His Personality. Eksperimental'naâ psihologiâ = Experimental Psychology (Russia), 2021. Vol. 14, no. 4, pp. 23–42. DOI: 10.17759/exppsy.2021140402. (In Russ., аbstr. in Engl.)


  1. Bazhin E.F., Etkind A.M. Lichnostnyj differencial (Metodicheskie rekomendacii) [Personality differential (methodological recommendations)]. Leningrad: Izdatel’stvo Leningradskogo nauchno-issledovatel’skogo psiho-nevrologicheskogo instituta im. V.M. Bekhtereva. (In Russ.).
  2. Barabanschikov V.A. Vospriyatie vyrazhenii litsa [Perception of facial expressions] / V.A. Barabanshchikov eds. Moscow: Institut psikhologii RAN, 2009. (In Russ.).
  3. Barabanshchikov V.A. Ekspressii litsa i ikh vospriyatie [Facial expressions and their perception]. Moscow: IP RAN Publ., 2012. (In Russ.).
  4. Barabanschikov V.A. Dinamika vospriyatiya vyrazhenii litsa. [The dynamics of the perception of facial expressions] Moscow: Publ. Kogito-Tsentr. 2016. 380 p. (In Russ.).
  5. Barabanschikov V.A. Vospriyatie modusov vyrazheniya litsa: invariantnost’ i variativnost’ / V. Barabanschikov// Psikhologiya vospriyatiya segodnya: paradigmy, teorii, empirika: sb. nauch. st. / pod red. V. Shukovoi, V. I. Panova. M., 2019. P. 94—102. (In Russ.).
  6. Barabanschikov V.A. Konfiguratsionnye otnosheniya litsa kak istochnik informatsii o lichnosti cheloveka [Configurational relations of a face as a source of information about personality]. Eksperimental’naya psihologia = Experimental Psychology (Russia), 2019. Vol. 12, no. 3, pp. 28—46. DOI:10.17759/ exppsy.2019120303. (In Russ., аbstr. in Engl.).
  7. Barabanschikov V.A. Konstantnost’ vospriyatiya ekologicheski validnykh struktur [Constancy of perception of ecologically valid structures] // Mir psikhologii = The World of Psychology (Russia), no., 2. pp. 164—173. (In Russ.).
  8. Barabanschikov V.A. Besprozvannaya I.I., Vizual’naya otsenka lichnosti neznakomogo cheloveka po fotoizobrazheniyu ego litsa i samootsenka vosprinimayushchego [Visual assessment of the personality of a stranger in a photo image of his face and self-assessment of the perceiver]. Litso cheloveka: poznanie, obshchenie, deyatel’nost’ = The Face of the Person: Cognition, Communication, Activity. Moscow: Kogito- Centr, 2019, pp. 163—180. (In Russ.).
  9. Barabanschikov V.A., Besprozvannaya I.I. Sledy lichnosti na skhematicheskom izobrazhenii litsa [Traces of the person on the schematic depiction of the person]. Eksperimental’naya psikhologiya = Experimental psychology (Russia), 2019, Vol. 12, no. 2, pp. 16—34. DOI:10.17759/ exppsy.2019120202 (In Russ.).
  10. Barabanschikov V.A., Marinova M.M. Vospriyatie videoizobrazhenii khimericheskogo litsa [Perception of video images of the chimeric face] // Poznanie i perezhivanie = Сognition and experience. Vol. 1. no. 1. pp. 112—134. DOI:10.51217/cogexp_2020_01_01_07 (In Russ.).
  11. Barabanschikov V.A., Marinova M.M. Deepfake v issledovaniyakh vospriyatiya litsa [Deepfake in Face Perception Research]. Eksperimental’nayapsikhologiya = Experimental Psychology (Russia), Vol. 14, no. 1, pp. 4—19. DOI: (In Russ.).
  12. Barabanschikov V.A., Marinova M.M., Abramov A.D. Virtual’naya lichnost’ podvizhnogo tetcherizirovannogo litsa [Virtual Personality of a Moving Thatcherized Face]. Psikhologicheskaya nauka i obrazovanie = Psychological Science and Education, 2021. Vol. 26, no. 1, pp. 5—18. DOI:10.17759/pse.2021000001. (In Russ., аbstr. in Engl.).
  13. Barabanschikov V.A., Suvorova E.V. Otsenka emotsional’nogo sostoyaniya cheloveka po ego videoizobrazheniyu [Human Emotional State Assessment Based on a Video Portrayal]. Eksperimental’naya psikhologiya = Experimental Psychology (Russia), Vol. 13, no. 4, pp. 4—24. DOI: 10.17759/ exppsy.2020130401 (In Russ. аbstr. in Engl.).
  14. Besprozvannaya I.I., Zhegallo A.V. Struktura predstavlenii o sebe i drugom (po fotoizobrazheniyu i skhematicheskomu izobrazheniyu) [The structure of ideas about yourself and others (according to a photographic image and a schematic image)]. Eksperimental’naya psikhologiya = Experimental psychology (Russia), 2019, Vol. 12, no. 3, pp. 19—27. DOI:10.17759/exppsy.2019120302 (In Russ.).
  15. Zhegallo A.V., Marinova M.M., Smol’nyi Ya.N. Konfiguratsionnye kharakteristiki litsa kak prediktory ustoichivosti otsenok individual’no-lichnostnykh kharakteristik [Configurational characteristics of the face as predictors of stability of assessments of individual-personal characteristics] / eds. Barabanshchikov V.A., Selivanov V.V. Eksperimental’naya psikhologiya v sotsial’nykh praktikakh = Experimental Psychology in Social Practices. Moscow: Universum, 2020. P. 90-99. (In Russ.).
  16. Bruce V., Young A. Understanding face recognition // British Journal of Psychology. 1986, Vol. 77. no. 3. pp. 305—327. DOI: 10.1111/j.2044-8295.1986.tb02199.x
  17. Bruce V., Young A. In the eye of beholder. The science of face perception. Y.: Oxford University Press. 2000. 280 p.
  18. Calder A. Does facial identity and facial expression recognition involve separate visual routes? / A. Calder // Oxford handbook of face perception / ed. by A. J. Calder [et al.]. Oxford, England, 2011. P. 427—448. DOI:10.1093/oxfordhb/9780199559053.013.0022
  19. Calder A.J., Young A.W., Keane J., & Dean M. Configural information in facial expression perception. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, 2000, Vol. 26, no. 2, pp. 527—551. DOI: 10.1037/0096-1523.26.2.527
  20. Fisher K., Towler J., Eimer M. Effects of contrast inversion on face perception depend on gaze location: Evidence from the N170 component. Cognitive Neuroscience. 2016, Vol. 7, pp. 128—137. DOI: 10.1080/17588928.2015.1053441
  21. Fox C.J., Oruc I., Barton J.J.S. It’s doesnot matter how you feel. The facial identity aftereffect is invariant to changes in facial expression. Journal of vision, 2008, Vol. 8, no. 11, pp. 1-13. DOI:10.1167/8.3.11.
  22. Haxby J.V., Hoffman E.A., Gobbini M.I. The distributed human neural system for face perception // Trends in Cognitive Sciences. 2000, Vol. 4. no. 6. pp. 223—233. DOI: 10.1016/S1364-6613(00)01482-0
  23. Redfern A.S., Benton C.P. Expression dependence in the perception of facial identity. i-Perception 8: 2041669517710663. DOI: 10.1177/2041669517710663

Information About the Authors

Vladimir A. Barabanschikov, Doctor of Psychology, Professor, Director, Institute of Experimental Psychology, Moscow State University of Psychology and Education, Dean of the Faculty of Psychology, Moscow Institute of Psychoanalysis, Moscow, Russia, ORCID:, e-mail:

Alexander V. Zhegallo, PhD in Psychology, Senior Researcher at the Laboratory of Systems Research of the Psyche, Institute of Psychology of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Researcher at the Center for Experimental Psychology of MSUPE, Moscow, Russia, ORCID:, e-mail:

Yaser N. Smolny, Research Engineer, Institute of Psychology of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow, Russia, ORCID:, e-mail:

Mariya M. Marinova, Assistant Director of the Institute of Experimental Psychology, Academic Services Specialist, Moscow State University of Psychology and Education, Postgraduate Student, Moscow Institute of Psychoanalysis, Moscow, Russia, ORCID:, e-mail:



Total: 1607
Previous month: 42
Current month: 28


Total: 872
Previous month: 15
Current month: 8