Home    Number 6, 2022

Human Neutral Face Bears an Imprint of Emotionality

[Neitral’noe litso cheloveka neset otpechatok ego emotsional’nosti]

DOI: https://doi.org/10.31857/S0869541522060094


Type of publication: Research Article

Submitted: 14.06.2022

Accepted: 05.08.2022

About author(s)

Victoria Rostovtseva | https://orcid.org/0000-0002-1846-9865 | victoria.v.rostovtseva@gmail.com | Institute of Ethnology and Anthropology, Russian Academy of Sciences (32a Leninsky prospekt, Moscow, 119991, Russia)

Marina Butovskaya | https://orcid.org/0000-0002-5528-0519 | marina.butovskaya@gmail.com | Institute of Ethnology and Anthropology, Russian Academy of Sciences (32a Leninsky prospekt, Moscow, 119991, Russia) | Russian State University for the Humanities (6 Miusskaya sq., 125993, Moscow, GSP-3, Russia)


human face, basic emotions, facial expressions, nonverbal communication, emotion recognition, FaceReader, facial perception


Perceiving a neutral human face, an eye can capture information that is not always available to a rough morphometric assessment. We hypothesized that a neutral face can bear traces of individual emotional expressiveness. The aim of the present study was to investigate the relationship between neutral facial shape and individual emotional facial expressiveness of a person. Videos and photographs of the same subjects were analyzed using the FaceReader neural network, which classified and estimated the intensity of emotional expressions for 176 men and women of European origin. The results revealed that a static neutral face bears an imprint of emotional facial expressions. The emotional coloring of a neutral face was significantly associated with individual predispositions to demonstrate certain emotional expressions during dynamic communication. Men were characterized by imprinting traces of anger, sadness, and surprise, while women – of sadness, fear, and disgust. The study is the first of its kind and contributes to understanding the mechanisms of human nonverbal communication.

Funding Information

This research was supported by the following institutions and grants: Ministry of Science and Higher Education of the Russian Federation [075-15-2022-328]


Rostovtseva, V.V., and M.L. Butovskaya. 2022. Neitral’noe litso cheloveka neset otpechatok ego emotsional’nosti [Human Neutral Face Bears an Imprint of Emotionality]. Etnograficheskoe obozrenie 6: 160–177. https://doi.org/10.31857/S0869541522060094 EDN: MRRALZ

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