A new study revealed that faces and voices are more likely to be judged as male when they are angry, and as female when they are happy. The study published in the journal, ‘Emotion,’ found that how we understand the emotional expression of a face or voice is heavily influenced by perceived sex, and vice versa.
‘This study shows how important it is not to rely too much on your first impressions, as they can easily be wrong. Next time you find yourself attributing happiness or sadness to a woman be aware of your bias and possible misinterpretation,’ said Dr Sebastian Korb, from the Department of Psychology.
‘Interestingly there wasn’t a gender divide in the way the perceived sex of a face affected emotional judgements — but women were slightly more sensitive to subtle changes in emotion overall,’ he concluded.
The study was carried among 256 participants. The research team used 121 avatar faces and 121 human voices created by modifying the emotional expression in degrees from happy to angry, and the sex on a sliding scale from male to female. The participants were shown the mock-ups or played the voices and asked to judge emotions and whether someone was male or female.
When comparing the size of the effects, it was found for both faces and voices that emotion influenced the perception of sex more than the other way around.