Chapter 5: The contribution of sophisticated facial expression coding to leadership research
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The aim of the literature discussed in the current chapter is to argue for the added value of using sophisticated facial expression coding to leadership research. A substantial number of empirical studies contributed to our knowledge of leaders’ emotional expressions. However, our awareness regarding the actual impact of leaders’ facial displays is still restricted, as the majority of research in the field of leadership has neglected the added contribution that can emerge from the integration of sophisticated facial action coding analysis. Specifically, both pronounced and subtle differences in muscle movement and intensity can produce quite different perceptual impacts. In addition to visual coding, the timing of expression and of sequential facial action units also needs to be considered, as it can also significantly influence observers’ perceptions. The leadership studies that have used detailed facial action coding methods highlight the significance of such methods in leadership research design. Based on the available leadership studies using sophisticated facial analysis, it is argued that the body of leadership research would benefit from incorporating detailed facial expression coding techniques into research designs. The outcomes of the integration of detail in terms of facial muscle movement, intensity, and timing could eventually expand the range of research exploration, depth of analysis, and magnitude of findings.

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