Emotional responses to watching and touching 3d emotional face in a virtual environment

Muhammad Hassan Jamil, Wanjoo Park, Mohamad Eid

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Facial expressions play a crucial role in modulating the emotional responses in the viewers. Touch is an important factor in shaping human emotions and social communication. The objective of this study is to investigate the effects of viewing and touching a virtual emotional face on the emotional responses of a viewer/toucher. In the case of touching the model, the effects of physical properties, namely stiffness and texture, are examined. Emotional facial expressions for neutrality, anger, fear, disgust, happiness, surprise, and sadness are developed and experimentally validated for the visual stimuli whereas four combinations of stiffness/texture properties are examined for the physical properties (low/high stiffness and smooth/rough texture). 25 participants viewed and touched the virtual emotional face and reported their respective emotional responses. The results showed that watching angry, happy, surprised, and sad faces significantly increased their anger, happiness, surprise, and sadness levels, respectively (p < 0.05). Watching a scared or a sad face significantly modulated the participants’ surprise levels (p < 0.05). On the other hand, viewing and touching an angry face significantly reduced the surprise level in the toucher (p < 0.05). As for differences based on physical properties, our results suggested that viewing and touching the disgusted face significantly modulated sadness. In particular, high stiffness/rough texture condition resulted in a significant increase in sadness while viewing and touching the disgusted face, compared to the high stiffness/smooth texture condition (p < 0.01). These conclusions suggest that viewing and touching an emotional face in a virtual environment modulates the emotional responses in the viewer/toucher. Findings of this study help the field of virtual reality to expand to a greater understanding of building emotionally compelling interpersonal interactions in the virtual environments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)553-564
Number of pages12
JournalVirtual Reality
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2021


  • Emotions
  • Facial expressions
  • Haptic interaction
  • Virtual environments

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software
  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Computer Graphics and Computer-Aided Design


Dive into the research topics of 'Emotional responses to watching and touching 3d emotional face in a virtual environment'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this