Motivational functions of facial expressions of emotion for senders and perceivers“

Third party funded individual grant

Project Details

Project leader:
Prof. Dr. Oliver Schultheiss
Dr. Andreas Rösch

Project members:
Miriam Frisch

Contributing FAU Organisations:
Lehrstuhl für Allgemeine Psychologie (Motivation, Emotion und Lernen)

Funding source: DFG-Einzelförderung / Sachbeihilfe (EIN-SBH)
Start date: 01/02/2010
End date: 31/01/2012
Extension Date: 31/01/2013

Research Fields

Motivation, emotion, and learning
Lehrstuhl für Allgemeine Psychologie (Motivation, Emotion und Lernen)

Abstract (technical / expert description):

The proposed project investigates functional relationships between implicit motives and facial expressions of emotion (FEEs) and tries to shed light on the role of motives in social interactions. Implicit motives like the need for dominance (nPow), the need for affiliation (nAff) and the need for achievement (nAch) are motivational dispositions that influence behavior outside of one’s conscious awareness (McClelland, 1987; Schultheiss, 2008). Preliminary studies indicate that motives also influence human nonverbal (emotional) communication by means of the expression and perception of FEEs (e.g. Schultheiss, Pang, Torges, Wirth & Treynor, 2005; Schultheiss & Hale, 2007). However, a systematic, comprehensive investigation of the interactions between implicit motives and both the encoding as well as the decoding of FEEs is still lacking.

            To fill this gap, we have already created a pool of FEEs shown in different motivational contexts by people (senders) differing in the strength of their implicit motives. We propose to conduct three studies to test if senders’ implicit motives are responsible for subjective and objective differences in these FEEs (e.g. in their rated or objective intensity). Two further studies will test whether perceivers’ implicit motives influence the perception of FEEs (i.e., their incentive strength and valence) as assessed with dot-probe and affect-misattribution tasks. The proposed research therefore allows us to relate differences in encoding and decoding of FEEs to the motives of senders and perceivers within a Brunswickian lens framework.


Donhauser, P., Rösch, A., & Schultheiss, O. (2015). The implicit need for power predicts recognition speed for dynamic changes in facial expressions of emotion. Motivation and Emotion, 39(5), 714-721.
Rösch, A., Stanton, S.J., & Schultheiss, O. (2013). Implicit motives predict affective responses to emotional expressions. Frontiers in psychology, 4.
Kordik, A., Schultheiss, O., & Eska, K. (2012). Implicit need for affiliation is associated with increased corrugator activity in a non-positive, but not in a positive social interaction. Journal of research in personality, 46(5), 604–608.
Schultheiss, O., & Brunstein, J. (Eds.) (2010). Implicit motives. New York: Oxford University Press.
Schultheiss, O., Rösch, A., Rawolle, M., Kordik, A., & Graham, S.C. (2010). Implicit motives: Current topics and future directions. In Urdan Timothy C., Karabenick Stuart A. (Eds.), The decade ahead : theoretical perspectives on motivation and achievement. (pp. 199-233). Bradford: Emerald.

Last updated on 2018-22-11 at 19:20