Honors College Theses

Publication Date



Interdisciplinary Studies (B.I.S.)

Document Type and Release Option

Thesis (open access)

Faculty Mentor

Virginia Wickline


Humans constantly express emotions both consciously and unconsciously; these emotions are constantly being perceived by those around us. The ability to understand nonverbal expressions and body language is key for successful social interactions in private and professional life. This research assessed 174 students on their ability to perceive emotions from nonverbal cues in faces and postures. The first hypothesis stated there would be a difference in the ability to perceive nonverbal language based on the gender of the viewer was partially supported. I found that women made fewer mistakes than men when observing sets of facial stimuli. A non-significant difference was found between the errors of men and women regarding postural stimuli. The second hypothesis tested whether there was a difference in how individuals perceive the facial emotions of those with different skin tones as compared to that of their own. It was found that participants with a lighter skin tone had higher rates of accuracy than participants with medium or dark skin tones, and that participants were least accurate at recognizing emotions from medium skin tone stimuli. The final hypothesis predicted there would be a difference in how business, psychology, and STEM majors perceived nonverbal cues based on body posture and facial expression, which was partially supported. I found the most significant differences across majors were in the African American faces subset. All of the tested factors had varying levels of significance, and further research should be done to investigate how these factors may affect emotion recognition.