Facial Action Coding System for Infants and Young Children (Baby FACS)

Wednesday, July 10 2019, 11:00 – 17:00 (lunch break ~ 13:00 – 14:00)

Workshop Goals and Overview

The workshop will provide an in-depth introduction to Baby FACS (Facial Action Coding System for Infants and Young Children, Oster, 2017), an objective, anatomically based coding system adapted from Ekman, Friesen, & Hager’s (2002) adult FACS. We will highlight the unique advantages of Baby FACS for research on the origins and development of facial expressions of emotion and their crucial role in infant-caregiver interaction, as well as research on facial behavior associated with emotion regulation, sensory responses, and cognitive information processing. A primer on Baby FACS coding will include detailed illustrations of Baby FACS Action Units (AUs) and modifications of FACS for infant facial morphology. Photos and video excerpts will illustrate the repertoire of infant facial expressions, including distinctive variants and modulations of infant distress and positive affect expressions. Presenters will discuss their research strategies, challenges, findings, and new directions in research with Baby FACS.

Workshop Presenters

  • Harriet Oster, Ph.D. (New York University and Hunter College/CUNY) will review theoretical and methodological issues underlying Baby FACS and evidence for the reliability of Baby FACS coding in diverse populations. Her studies have shown similarities in the basic repertoire of infant facial expressions across cultures as well as subtle differences in facial expressiveness between cultures, between pre-term and full term infants, and between infants with and without facial anomalies interacting with their mothers. In these studies, maternal depression was related to infants’ positive and negative emotional expressions.

  • Marco Dondi, Ph.D (University of Ferrara, Italy) has used Baby FACS in groundbreaking research comparing facial expressions in full-term and very early preterm infants and fetal facial expressions recorded in 3 and 4-D ultrasounds, research that will advance our understanding of very early emotional development. Dr. Dondi will discuss the challenges of coding facial behavior in pre-term infants and fetuses and findings from experimental studies and studies of infant-caregiver interaction.

  • Andreas Maroulis, a doctoral candidate at Radboud University, Nijmegen NL and a researcher at Vicar Vision in Amsterdam, will present his work on development of an automated Baby FaceReader based on Baby FACS. He will discuss the challenges of automated coding of facial expressions, the findings from reliability and validation studies, and the potential for this new technology to facilitate basic and clinical research on infant social and emotional development.


The three presenters will contribute throughout the workshop, not sequentially.
Prior certification in the adult FACS is not required for this workshop.
Contact Harriet Oster for additional information about the workshop or Baby FACS training: harriet.oster@nyu.edu