AbstractThe worldwide fascination of da Vinci’s Mona Lisa has been dedicated to the emotional ambiguity of her face expression. In the present study we manipulated Mona Lisa’s mouth curvature as one potential source of ambiguity and studied how a range of happier and sadder face variants influences perception. In two experimental conditions we presented different stimulus ranges with different step sizes between stimuli along the happy-sad axis of emotional face expressions. Stimuli were presented in random order and participants indicated the perceived emotional face expression (first task) and the confidence of their response (second task). The probability of responding ‘happy’ to the original Mona Lisa was close to 100%. Furthermore, in both conditions the perceived happiness of Mona Lisa variants described sigmoidal functions of the mouth curvature. Participants’ confidence was weakest around the sigmoidal inflection points. Remarkably, the sigmoidal functions, as well as confidence values and reaction times, differed significantly between experimental conditions. Finally, participants responded generally faster to happy than to sad faces. Overall, the original Mona Lisa seems to be less ambiguous than expected. However, perception of and reaction to the emotional face content is relative and strongly depends on the used stimulus range./.../