Study looks into different facial expressions

A smile or a frown, considered polar opposites in emotion, can change in a matter of seconds.

They're just two of the many emotions the human face can express.

UT associate professor of psychology Jeff Larsen wants to study mixed emotion.

He is studying this along with Chuck Collins with UT.

"I have been studying mixed emotions for about 15 years now. This film she was watching, 'Life is Beautiful', is a perfect study of mixed emotions. And I used to go to the movie theater and hand people a survey before or after they saw the movie," said Larsen.

Now, he can put down the pen and paper and start using the mouse and keys.

He films your reactions to a movie and analyzes your reactions at the computer. Once they have the expressions on file, they begin the analysis.

A team of three students have been sorting through the data and they each have a different college major.

They find this psychological study hits closer to home than they could have imagined.

"Psychology is really cool. I didn't really know very much about it before coming here," said Kelly Moran from Clemson University.

"Being able to bring together these two different fields which I had no idea how it would be related before has been a great opportunity," said math major Marina Massaro from New York.

"It gave me the ability to know what research is like," said UT computer science major, Ben Roberson.

Besides giving these students real world experience, Larsen hopes to take further strides in the study itself. Connecting the software to an expression and the expression to an emotion.

Larsen and Collins had the help of the National institute for Mathematics and Biological Synthesis, or NIMBioS, with this study.

They began the study in March and are continuing on working with the data.


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