Social Psychology Network

Maintained by Scott Plous, Wesleyan University

Ursula Hess

Ursula Hess

Dr. Hess' current research is in the area of emotion psychology, in particular, the communication of affect with an emphasis on two main lines of research. First, using psychophysiological (e.g., electromyography) measures she studies the influence of a sender's expressive behavior on the receiver, in terms of mimicry and emotional contagion. Second, she is interested in the role of social influences (e.g., beliefs about group membership) in the encoding and decoding of emotion expressions. More recent research efforts aim to combine these lines of research into a larger theoretical perspective.

Primary Interests:

  • Communication, Language
  • Emotion, Mood, Affect
  • Gender Psychology
  • Intergroup Relations
  • Interpersonal Processes
  • Motivation, Goal Setting
  • Neuroscience, Psychophysiology
  • Nonverbal Behavior
  • Persuasion, Social Influence

Research Group or Laboratory:


  • Hess, U. & Fischer, A. (2016). Emotional Mimicry in Social Context. Cambridge, UK, Cambridge University Press
  • Hess, U. & Philippot, P. (Eds.), 2007. Group Dynamics and Emotional Expression. New York, Cambridge University Press.

Journal Articles:

  • Hareli, S., & Hess, U. (2010). What emotional reactions can tell us about the nature of others: An appraisal perspective on person perception. Cognition and Emotion, 24, 128-140
  • Hess, U., Adams, Jr, R.B., Kleck, R.E. (2009). The face is not an empty canvas: How facial expressions interact with facial appearance. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society London B, 364, 497-3504.
  • Hess, U., Adams, R. B., Simard, A., Stevenson, M. T., & Kleck, R. E. (2012). Smiling and sad wrinkles: Age-related changes in the face and the perception of emotions and intentions. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 48, 1377-1380
  • Hess, U., Banse, R., & Kappas, A. (1995). The intensity of facial expression is determined by underlying affective state and social situation. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 69, 280-288.Guilford Press.
  • Hess, U. & Blairy, S. (2001). Facial mimicry and emotional contagion to dynamic emotional facial expressions and their influence on decoding accuracy. International Journal of Psychophysiology, 40, 129-141.
  • Hess, U., & Bourgeois, P. (2010). You smile – I smile: Emotion expression in social interaction. Biological Psychology, 84, 514–520
  • Hess, U. & Fischer, A. (2014). Emotional Mimicry: Why and When We Mimic Emotions. Social and Personality Psychology Compass, 8, 45-57
  • Hess, U., Sabourin, G., Kleck, R. E. (2007). Postauricular and eye-blink startle responses to facial expressions. Psychophysiology, 44, 431-435.
  • Hess, U. & Thibault, P. (2009). Darwin and emotion expression. American Psychologist, 64, 120-128.
  • Lanctôt, N. & Hess, U. (2007). The timing of appraisals. Emotion, 7, 207-212.
  • Mauersberger, H., Blaison, C., Kafetsios, K., Kessler, C.-L., Hess, U. (2015). Individual Differences in Emotional Mimicry: Underlying Traits and Social Consequences. European Journal of Personality, 29, 512-529.
  • Niedenthal, P.M., Mermillod, M., Maringer, M., & Hess, U (2010). The Simulation of Smiles (SIMS) Model: Embodied Simulation and the Meaning of Facial Expression. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 33, 417 -433
  • Thibault, P., Bourgeois, P., & Hess, U. (2006). The effect of group-identification on emotion recognition: The case of cats and basketball players. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 42, 676-683.
  • Thibault, P., Levesque, M., Gosselin, P., & Hess, U. (2012). The Duchenne marker is NOT a universal signal of smile authenticity: but it can be learned! Special Issue of Social Psychology on Culture as Process, Social Psychology, 43, 215-221

Other Publications:

  • Hess, U. (2014). Anger is a positive emotion (pp. 55-75). In W. G. Parrott (Ed.) The Positive Side of Negative Emotions. Guilford Press
  • Hess, U., & Hareli, S. (2014). The role of social context in the interpretation of emotion (pp. 119-141). In M. K. Mandal & A. Awasthi (Eds.), Understanding facial expressions in communication: Cross-cultural and multidisciplinary perspectives. Springer.
  • Hess, U., Thibault, P., & Levesque, M. (2013). Where do emotional dialects come from? A comparison of the understanding of emotion terms between Gabon and Quebec (pp. 512-519). In J. R. J. Fontaine, K. R. Scherer & C. Soriano (Eds.), Components of emotional meaning: A sourcebook. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press

Ursula Hess
Department of Psychology
Humboldt University of Berlin
Rudower Chaussee 18
12489 Berlin

  • Phone: +49 30 2093-9327
  • Fax: +49 30 2093-9332

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