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Facial actions as visual cues for personality

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Author: Arya, Ali
What visual cues do human viewers use to assign personality characteristics to animated characters?
While most facial animation systems associate facial actions to limited emotional states or speech content,
the present paper explores the above question by relating the perception of personality to a wide variety of
facial actions (e.g., head tilting/turning, and eyebrow raising) and emotional expressions (e.g., smiles and
frowns). Animated characters exhibiting these actions and expressions were presented to human viewers in
brief videos. Human viewers rated the personalities of these characters using a well-standardized adjective
rating system borrowed from the psychological literature. These personality descriptors are organized in a
multidimensional space that is based on the orthogonal dimensions of Desire for Affiliation and Displays of
Social Dominance. The main result of the personality rating data was that human viewers associated
individual facial actions and emotional expressions with specific personality characteristics very reliably. In
particular, dynamic facial actions such as head tilting and gaze aversion tended to spread ratings along the
Dominance dimension, whereas facial expressions of contempt and smiling tended to spread ratings along
the Affiliation dimension. Furthermore, increasing the frequency and intensity of the head actions increased
the perceived Social Dominance of the characters. We interpret these results as pointing to a reliable link
between animated facial actions/expressions and the personality attributions they evoke in human viewers.
The paper shows how these findings are used in our facial animation system to create perceptually valid
personality profiles based on Dominance and Affiliation as two parameters that control the facial actions of
autonomous animated characters.
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