Express your emotions to help new research project

Scottish volunteers are needed for a project using new technology to measure how we express emotion.

Researchers from the University of Aberdeen will track how our faces change when we talk about emotional events.

They will also examine the ability of volunteers to mimic different facial expressions using software which measures 26 different points around the face.

James Cusack, a post-doctoral research fellow in psychiatry, will utilise recently developed technology capable of performing calculations in seconds which would take many hours to perform manually.

He said: “The capacity to copy the actions of others plays a central role in social learning but it is something that is difficult to quantify. 

“Previously, this ability has been measured by simply asking people how well they felt another individual was copying another facial expression. 

“This method of analysis is problematic as it is time-consuming, subject to bias and humans have limited capacity to detect subtle spatial differences in facial expression which occur over time. 

“This study is innovative in seeking to study facial expression using computer vision methods and to look at what this can tell us about human behaviour.”

In addition to the ‘mimic’ exercise, volunteers will also be asked to complete a questionnaire about their emotions, mood and personality.

Gemma Matthews, a research postgraduate in psychiatry who is also working on the project, added: “Facial imitation is extremely interesting as researchers argue it plays an important role in how we learn to express emotions.

“Through this project we hope to learn more about that process and how and why people might describe emotional events.

“We want to understand more about the factors which influence the way we express emotion and being able to quantify this is the first step.”

The research team will be in Aberdeen between June and September at the Clinical Research Centre, Royal Cornhill Hospital and at the University of Glasgow between June and September

Volunteers are sought from these regions and travel costs will be reimbursed. Participants will also be entered into a draw to win a £50 Amazon voucher.

The project forms part of the University of Aberdeen’s North research strand.

Anyone interested in taking part should contact Gemma Matthews on 01224 557965 or send at text beginning with the word “North” to 07756148152 or e-mail: