Affective State Influences Perception by Affecting Decision Parameters Underlying Bias and Sensitivity

Department of Psychology, Northeastern University, Boston, MA 02115, USA.
Emotion (Impact Factor: 3.88). 01/2012; 12(4):726-36. DOI: 10.1037/a0026765
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Studies of the effect of affect on perception often show consistent directional effects of a person's affective state on perception. Unpleasant emotions have been associated with a "locally focused" style of stimulus evaluation, and positive emotions with a "globally focused" style. Typically, however, studies of affect and perception have not been conducted under the conditions of perceptual uncertainty and behavioral risk inherent to perceptual judgments outside the laboratory. We investigated the influence of perceivers' experienced affect (valence and arousal) on the utility of social threat perception by combining signal detection theory and behavioral economics. We compared 3 perceptual decision environments that systematically differed with respect to factors that underlie uncertainty and risk: the base rate of threat, the costs of incorrect identification threat, and the perceptual similarity of threats and nonthreats. We found that no single affective state yielded the best performance on the threat perception task across the 3 environments. Unpleasant valence promoted calibration of response bias to base rate and costs, high arousal promoted calibration of perceptual sensitivity to perceptual similarity, and low arousal was associated with an optimal adjustment of bias to sensitivity. However, the strength of these associations was conditional upon the difficulty of attaining optimal bias and high sensitivity, such that the effect of the perceiver's affective state on perception differed with the cause and/or level of uncertainty and risk.

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Available from: Lisa Feldman Barrett, Apr 19, 2014
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    • "Inducing Emotions with Movie Clips Numerous techniques have been used by researchers to induce emotions. Some examples include essay writing on emotional memories (Schaefer and Philippot 2005), mental role-playing tasks IRB/Informed Consent Background survey Cover story and Instructions Clear Emotions with neutral clip Induce Emotions with random clip Measure Emotions with post-film questionnaire Measure Risk Perception in Augmented Virtuality Environment (SAVES) predictor variables response variable Fig. 2. Overarching data collection approach (Schaefer et al. 2003), emotional statement reading (Velten 1968), imaginal mood treatment (Boyle 1984), facial and respiratory feedback (Philippot et al. 2002), unexpected gifts (Isen and Patrick 1983), exposure to images and music (Lynn et al. 2012), or movie excerpt viewing (Rottenberg et al. 2007). Movie clips were selected because this technique combines many of the strengths of the other methods, and literature provided very strong support. "
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    ABSTRACT: Despite strong advancements in construction safety performance over the past few decades, injuries still occur at an unacceptable rate. Researchers have shown that risk-taking behavior, originating mainly from inaccurate perception and unacceptable tolerance of safety risk, is a significant factor in a majority of construction injuries. Based on psychology research that suggests cognitive interactions between emotions and risk perception, the hypothesis was formed that there are objectively measureable differences in construction safety risk perception between people in different emotional states. To test this hypothesis, a controlled experiment was designed and conducted that (1) induced various positive and negative emotions in 69 subjects using validated movie excerpts; (2) measured emotional states using a validated post-film questionnaire; (3) exposed participants to construction hazards within a high fidelity virtual environment; and (4) measured subjects' perceptions of the risk related to these hazards adopting a validated frequency-severity-based questionnaire. Once these data were collected, a principal component analysis (PCA) was performed to identify uncorrelated groups of related emotions. A Kruskal-Wallis test followed by multiple Mann-Whitney U tests was then used to test for differences in risk perception between participants belonging to these different emotional groups. The results of these analyses indicated that the mild negative group (sad and unhappy subjects) and the intense negative group (fearful, anxious, and disgusted subjects) perceived statistically significantly (p = 0.003) more risk than the positive group (happy, amused, joyful, and interested subjects). The two negative groups were also found to perceive more risk than the neutral group (p < 0.02). However, no statistically significant difference in risk perception was found between the positive and neutral groups or between the two negative groups. According to situational awareness literature, the implication of these findings is that individuals in positive and neutral emotional states may be more prone to engage in risk-taking behaviors than their counterparts because they perceive less risk in the same environment. (C) 2014 American Society of Civil Engineers.
    Journal of Construction Engineering and Management 11/2014; 140(11):04014052. DOI:10.1061/(ASCE)CO.1943-7862.0000894
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    • "A utility-based signal detection framework for emotion perception. Three signal parameters (similarity of target [ " angry " ] and foil [ " not angry " ] signal distributions, decision payoffs [costs and benefits implemented as points earned or lost], and the base rate of occurrence of targets relative to foils) combine to yield a utility function (Lynn et al., 2012). The point of maximum utility locates the optimal decision criterion position (dashed drop line). "
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    ABSTRACT: Oxytocin is associated with differences in the perception of and response to socially mediated information, such as facial expressions. Across studies, however, oxytocin׳s effect on emotion perception has been inconsistent. Outside the laboratory, emotion perception involves interpretation of perceptual uncertainty and assessment of behavioral risk. An account of these factors is largely missing from studies of oxytocin׳s effect on emotion perception and might explain inconsistent results across studies. Of relevance, studies of oxytocin׳s effect on learning and decision-making indicate that oxytocin attenuates risk aversion. We used the probability of encountering angry faces and the cost of misidentifying them as not angry to create a risky environment wherein bias to categorize faces as angry would maximize point earnings. Consistent with an underestimation of the factors creating risk (i.e., encounter rate and cost), men given oxytocin exhibited a worse (i.e., less liberal) response bias than men given placebo. Oxytocin did not influence women׳s performance. These results suggest that oxytocin may impair men׳s ability to adapt to changes in risk and uncertainty when introduced to novel or changing social environments. Because oxytocin also influences behavior in non-social realms, oxytocin pharmacotherapy could have unintended consequences (i.e., risk-prone decision-making) while nonetheless normalizing pathological social interaction.
    Psychiatry Research 04/2014; 219:195-203. DOI:10.1016/j.psychres.2014.04.031
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    • "Ferraro et al. (2003) showed that happy and sad mood inductions (listening to classical music) resulted in faster responding to happy and sad words, respectively. In another series of studies, a decreased holistic processing bias for faces has been reported subsequent to a negative as compared to positive and neutral mood induction (Curby et al., 2011; see also Lynn et al., 2012). Yet, questioning the role of valence, when having undergone an arousal induction procedure, participants yielded a global vs. local processing bias for geographical map information, irrespective of the valence of the arousal situation (Brunyé et al., 2009). "
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    ABSTRACT: The literature on developmental synesthesia has seen numerous sensory combinations, with surprisingly few reports on synesthesias involving affect. On the one hand, emotion, or more broadly affect, might be of minor importance to the synesthetic experience (e.g., Sinke et al., 2012). On the other hand, predictions on how affect could be relevant to the synesthetic experience remain to be formulated, in particular those that are driven by emotion theories. In this theoretical paper, we hypothesize that a priori studies on synesthesia involving affect will observe the following. Firstly, the synesthetic experience is not merely about discrete emotion processing or overall valence (positive, negative) but is determined by or even altered through cognitive appraisal processes. Secondly, the synesthetic experience changes temporarily on a quantitative level according to (i) the affective appraisal of the inducing stimulus or (ii) the current affective state of the individual. These hypotheses are inferred from previous theoretical and empirical accounts on synesthesia (including the few examples involving affect), different emotion theories, crossmodal processing accounts in synesthetes, and non-synesthetes, and the presumed stability of the synesthetic experience. We hope that the current review will succeed in launching a new series of studies on "affective synesthesias." We particularly hope that such studies will apply the same creativity in experimental paradigms as we have seen and still see when assessing and evaluating "traditional" synesthesias.
    Frontiers in Psychology 10/2013; 4:754. DOI:10.3389/fpsyg.2013.00754
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