Perceiving emotion: towards a realistic understanding of the task
A decade ago, perceiving emotion was generally equated with taking a sample (a still photograph or a few seconds of speech) that unquestionably signified an archetypal emotional state, and attaching the appropriate label. Computational research has shifted that paradigm in multiple ways. Concern with realism is key. Emotion generally colours ongoing action and interaction: describing that colouring is a different problem from categorizing brief episodes of relatively pure emotion. Multiple challenges flow from that. Describing emotional colouring is a challenge in itself. One approach is to use everyday categories describing states that are partly emotional and partly cognitive. Another approach is to use dimensions. Both approaches need ways to deal with gradual changes over time and mixed emotions. Attaching target descriptions to a sample poses problems of both procedure and validation. Cues are likely to be distributed both in time and across modalities, and key decisions may depend heavily on context. The usefulness of acted data is limited because it tends not to reproduce these features. By engaging with these challenging issues, research is not only achieving impressive results, but also offering a much deeper understanding of the problem.