Portsmouth researcher given £1.7m to compare monkey and human facial 'personalities'

A RESEARCHER from the University of Portsmouth has been awarded more than £1 million to study the ‘facial personalities’ of monkeys.

Friday, 13th December 2019, 6:00 am
Updated Friday, 13th December 2019, 6:00 am
The Portsmouth academic will use the £1.7m grant to research the facial personalities of macaques.

Professor Bridget Waller, who is Director of the Centre for Comparative and Evolutionary Psychology, is one of 301 academics across Europe to be supported by a new grant from the European Research Council.

The funding will go towards Professor Waller’s five-year project to compare facial expression ‘personalities’ in humans and macaques.

She said: ‘This project will be the first to provide a comprehensive and interdisciplinary perspective on individual differences in facial expressions.

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‘Communicating with others via the face is crucial for navigating our social world. Difficulties with facial expression production can have debilitating effects on social interaction.

‘Despite this, we know surprisingly little about individual differences in facial expressions, what causes these differences.’

Individual variation in the production and the understanding of facial expressions will be measured via laboratory experiments including MRI scans, before comparing the results with the facial expressions and reactions of macaques.

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The funding comes through the ERC’s Consolidator Grant competition, which saw more than 2,453 applications.

The grant’s total funding of €600 million is expected to create around 2,000 jobs for postdoctoral fellows, PhD students and other staff working in the grantees' research teams.