Context Is Routinely Encoded During Emotion Perception

Department of Psychology, Boston College, Chestnut Hill, MA 02467, USA.
Psychological Science (Impact Factor: 4.43). 04/2010; 21(4):595-9. DOI: 10.1177/0956797610363547
Source: PubMed


In the present study, we investigated whether context is routinely encoded during emotion perception. For the first time, we show that people remember the context more often when asked to label an emotion in a facial expression than when asked to judge the expression's simple affective significance (which can be done on the basis of the structural features of the face alone). Our findings are consistent with an emerging literature showing that facial muscle actions (i.e., structural features of the face), when viewed in isolation, might be insufficient for perceiving emotion.

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Available from: Lisa Feldman Barrett, Apr 19, 2014
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    • "In a wider sense the perceivers own goals, motives and states also provide a context to emotion perception. We finally point out, that the notion that facial expressions in particular could be studied without context, as was recently expressed in calls for more context in emotion research (Barrett and Kensinger 2010 "
    the 11th IEEE International Conference on Automatic Face and Gesture Recognition, Ljubljana, Slovenia; 05/2015
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    • "The present study set out to investigate the degree to which temporal context influences our experience of emotional stimuli, and to identify any variables that might modify such confounding effects. Previous research suggests that temporal-context effects are indeed present during emotion processing (e.g., Flaisch et al., 2008a,b; Larsen and Norris, 2009; Barrett and Kensinger, 2010). A series of studies have demonstrated that electro-cortical, autonomic and behavioral responses elicited by positive, negative, and indifferent 1 images differ when they are preceded by emotional (positive and negative) compared with indifferent verbal descriptions (i.e., appraisal frames; Foti and Hajcak, 2008; MacNamara et al., 2009, 2011; Wu et al., 2012). "
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    ABSTRACT: The aim of this study was to investigate if and how temporal context influences subjective affective responses to emotional images. To do so, we examined whether the subjective evaluation of a target image is influenced by the valence of its preceding image, and/or its overall position in a sequence of images. Furthermore, we assessed if these potentially confounding contextual effects can be moderated by a common procedural control: randomized stimulus presentation. Four groups of participants evaluated the same set of 120 pictures from the International Affective System (IAPS) presented in four different sequences. Our data reveal strong effects of both aspects of temporal context in all presentation sequences, modified only slightly in their nature and magnitude. Furthermore, this was true for both valence and arousal ratings. Subjective ratings of negative target images were influenced by temporal context most strongly across all sequences. We also observed important gender differences: females expressed greater sensitivity to temporal-context effects and design manipulations relative to males, especially for negative images. Our results have important implications for future emotion research that employs normative picture stimuli, and contributes to our understanding of context effects in general.
    Frontiers in Psychology 04/2015; 6. DOI:10.3389/fpsyg.2015.00367 · 2.80 Impact Factor
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    • "Basic properties of facial expressions were described over a century ago by Darwin (1872/1988) and have since been the subject of interest for many researchers (see Ekman and Rosenberg, 2005). A review of recently published papers indicates that facial expressions figure prominently in research on almost every aspect of emotion, including psychophysiology (Dimberg et al., 2011), neural bases (Mattavelli et al., 2014), development (Mancini et al., 2013; Parker et al., 2013), perception (Barrett and Kensinger, 2010), social processes (Hareli et al., 2009; Schneider et al., 2013), emotion disorders (Bourke et al., 2010), and even human-computer interaction (Kharat and Dudul, 2009). Facial expressions are central to several leading theories of emotion (Tomkins, 1962; Ekman, 1992; Izard, 1993) and continue to be debated in emotion science, as their meaning, rules of display, and interpretation are still in question (Ekman, 1993, 1997; Fridlund, 1994; Russell, 1994; Wierzbicka, 1995). "
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    ABSTRACT: Emotional facial expressions play a critical role in theories of emotion and figure prominently in research on almost every aspect of emotion. This article provides a background for a new database of basic emotional expressions. The goal in creating this set was to provide high quality photographs of genuine facial expressions. Thus, after proper training, participants were inclined to express “felt” emotions. The novel approach taken in this study was also used to establish whether a given expression was perceived as intended by untrained judges. The judgment task for perceivers was designed to be sensitive to subtle changes in meaning caused by the way an emotional display was evoked and expressed. Consequently, this allowed us to measure the purity and intensity of emotional displays, which are parameters that validation methods used by other researchers do not capture. The final set is comprised of those pictures that received the highest recognition marks (e.g. accuracy with intended display) from independent judges, totaling 210 high quality photographs of 30 individuals. Descriptions of the accuracy, intensity, and purity of displayed emotion as well as FACS AU’s codes are provided for each picture. Given the unique methodology applied to gathering and validating this set of pictures, it may be a useful tool for research using face stimuli. The Warsaw Set of Emotional Facial Expression Pictures (WSEFEP) is freely accessible to the scientific community for noncommercial use by request at
    Frontiers in Psychology 12/2014; 5. DOI:10.3389/fpsyg.2014.01516 · 2.80 Impact Factor
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