The face of wrath: critical features for conveying facial threat

Daniel Lundqvist, Francisco Esteves, Arne Öhman*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

131 Citations (Scopus)


We examined the role of different facial features (shape of eyebrows, eyes, mouth, nose, and the direction of gaze) in conveying the emotional impact of a threatening face. In two experiments, a total of 100 high school students rated their impression of two sets of schematic faces in terms of semantic differential scales (Activity, Negative Evaluation, and Potency). It was found that the different facial features could be ordered hierarchically, with eyebrows as the most important feature, followed by mouth and eyes. Eyebrows thus fundamentally categorised faces as threatening or nonthreatening. The different shapes of mouth and eyes provided subsequent categorisations of faces within these primary categories.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)691-711
Number of pages21
JournalCognition and Emotion
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1999
Externally publishedYes


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