Processing Audio-Visual Information on Immigration: A Face-Emotion Coding Approach

Friday, July 14, 2017
Gilbert Scott Building - Room 132 (University of Glasgow)
Robin Hill , NRlabs Neuropolitics Research, University of Edinburgh
The issue of immigration was at the heart of the campaign for the UK to Leave the European Union. Immigration raises powerful question about the limits to any union, about who belongs and who does not. It provokes powerful emotions, and often emotions and attitudes to which individuals would not explicitly or publicly subscribe. Very brief facial expressions, known as micro expressions, last only a fraction of a second and are very difficult to fake or to control consciously. There is strong evidence for the universality of the facial expressions of seven emotions – anger, contempt, disgust, fear, joy, sadness, and surprise. Face-emotion coding uses the latest advances in the cognitive neurosciences and machine learning algorithms to examine emotional responses to perceived stimuli.  The study of, these often unconscious, facial micro-expressions can provide important information about an individual's response to information. Working together with our industrial partners CrowdEmotion we gathered face-emotion coding data on EU referendum-related broadcasts from 1000 online participants and 150 lab-based participants. We gathered responses to EU-related information presented during the UK's referendum campaign on the issue of immigration. In this paper, we explore the implicit emotional responses of participants to different types of audio-visual communications and to different information sources. We ask how these insights might help us to understand the place that immigration came to play in the UK’s referendum on EU membership.