Emotion production of facial expressions: A comparison of deaf and hearing children

Anna Catherine Jones, Roberto Gutierrez, Amanda Ludlow

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The production of facial expressions is an important skill that allows children to share and adapt emotions during social interactions. While deaf children are reported to show delays in their social and emotion understanding, the way in which they produce facial expressions of emotions has been relatively unexplored. The present study investigated the production of facial expressions of emotions by young congenitally deaf children. Six facial expressions of emotions produced by 5 congenitally deaf children and 5 hearing children (control group) were filmed across three tasks: 1) voluntarily posed expression of emotion 2) responding to social stories 3) intentionally mimicking expressions of emotion. The recorded videos were analysed using a software based of the Facial Action Coding System (FACS), and then judged by adult raters using two different scales: according to the emotion elicited (i.e. accuracy) and the intensity of the emotion produced. Results using both measurement scales showed that all children (deaf and hearing) were able to produce socially recognisable prototypical configuration of facial expressions. However, the deaf children were rated by as adults as expressing their emotions with greater intensity compared to the hearing children. The results suggest deaf children may show more exaggerated facial expressions of emotion, possibly to avoid any ambiguity in communication
Original languageEnglish
Article number106113
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Communication Disorders
Early online date24 May 2021
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2021


  • Emotion production, deafness, facial expressions


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