The face is central to primate multicomponent signals

Waller, B.M. ORCID: 0000-0001-6303-7458, Kavanagh, E. ORCID: 0000-0001-7202-005X, Micheletta, J., Clark, P.R. ORCID: 0000-0001-6725-7781 and Whitehouse, J. ORCID: 0000-0003-2607-5492, 2022. The face is central to primate multicomponent signals. International Journal of Primatology. ISSN 0164-0291

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A wealth of experimental and observational evidence suggests that faces have become increasingly important in the communication system of primates over evolutionary time and that both the static and moveable aspects of faces convey considerable information. Therefore, whenever there is a visual component to any mul-ticomponent signal the face is potentially relevant. However, the role of the face is not always considered in primate multicomponent communication research. We review the literature and make a case for greater focus on the face going forward. We propose that the face can be overlooked for two main reasons: first, due to meth-odological difficulty. Examination of multicomponent signals in primates is difficult, so scientists tend to examine a limited number of signals in combination. Detailed examination of the subtle and dynamic components of facial signals is particularly hard to achieve in studies of primates. Second, due to a common assumption that the face contains "emotional" content. A priori categorisation of facial behavior as "emotional" ignores the potentially communicative and predictive information present in the face that might contribute to signals. In short, we argue that the face is central to multicomponent signals (and also many multimodal signals) and suggest future directions for investigating this phenomenon.

Item Type: Journal article
Publication Title: International Journal of Primatology
Creators: Waller, B.M., Kavanagh, E., Micheletta, J., Clark, P.R. and Whitehouse, J.
Publisher: Springer Science and Business Media LLC
Date: 15 January 2022
ISSN: 0164-0291
Rights: © The Author(s) 2022. Open Access. This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article's Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article's Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit
Divisions: Schools > School of Social Sciences
Record created by: Linda Sullivan
Date Added: 20 Jan 2022 15:11
Last Modified: 20 Jan 2022 15:11

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