New developments in understanding emotional facial signals in chimpanzees

L. Parr, Bridget Waller, S. Vick

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There has been little research over the past few decades focusing on similarities and differences in the form and function of emotional signals in nonhuman primates, or whether these communication systems are homologous with those of humans. This is, in part, due to the fact that detailed and objective measurement tools to answer such questions have not been systematically developed for nonhuman primate research. Despite this, emotion research in humans has benefited for over 30 years from an objective, anatomically based facial-measurement tool: the Facial Action Coding System (FACS). In collaboration with other researchers, we have now developed a similar system for chimpanzees (ChimpFACS) and, in the process, have made exciting new discoveries regarding chimpanzees' perception and categorization of emotional facial expressions and similarities in the facial anatomy of chimpanzees and humans, and we have identified homologous facial movements in the two species. Investigating similarities and differences in primate emotional communication systems is essential if we are to understand unique evolutionary specializations among different species.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)117-122
Number of pages6
JournalCurrent Directions In Psychological Science
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2007


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