The law’s emotion problem
The New York Times - 03/11/2017
But can a judge or jurors infer a defendant’s emotions reliably, as Justice Kennedy implied? Is it possible, as this theory holds, to detect remorse — or any other emotion — just by looking and listening?
Some scientists believe so. A famous experimental paradigm called “mind in the eyes” purports to demonstrate this ability. You are shown a photograph of a pair of eyes, accompanied by a short list of words that describe a mental state or attitude, such as irritated, sarcastic, worried and friendly. Then you are asked to pick the word that best matches the emotions the eyes express. My lab has confirmed that test subjects perform marvelously at this task, selecting the expected word more than 70 percent of the time on average, based on a study we conducted using over 100 test subjects.