Article

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

ABSTRACT

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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    • "– rarely depends solely on facial features, which are usually ambiguous and can imply different levels of threat for the observer. Surrounding cues, such as gaze direction and body posture, are known to act as contextual information during emotion recognition (Righart and de Gelder, 2008; Barrett and Kensinger, 2010; Aviezer et al., 2011). Specifically, the detection of anger represents an immediate threat for the observer when paired with a direct gaze; by contrast, it is when paired with an averted gaze that fear marks the presence (and possibly the localization) of a threat in the environment (Sander et al., 2007). "
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    ABSTRACT: Efficient detection and reaction to negative signals in the environment is essential for survival. In social situations, these signals are often ambiguous and can imply different levels of threat for the observer, thereby making their recognition susceptible to contextual cues – such as gaze direction when judging facial displays of emotion. However, the mechanisms underlying such contextual effects remain poorly understood. By computational modeling of human behavior and electrical brain activity, we demonstrate that gaze direction enhances the perceptual sensitivity to threat-signaling emotions – anger paired with direct gaze, and fear paired with averted gaze. This effect arises simultaneously in ventral face-selective and dorsal motor cortices at 200 ms following face presentation, dissociates across individuals as a function of anxiety, and does not reflect increased attention to threat-signaling emotions. These findings reveal that threat tunes neural processing in fast, selective, yet attention-independent fashion in sensory and motor systems, for different adaptive purposes.
    Full-text · Article · Dec 2015 · eLife Sciences
    • "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 "
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    ABSTRACT: Two studies were conducted to investigate the effect of two types of context information: the social group membership of the expresser and the presence of other individuals. Participants first saw images from a fictitious ball game and then rated the supporters’ or opponents’ purported emotional reactions to the player shown. The different types of context led to different effects. Whereas situational information about social group membership invited perspective taking and led to complex assessments of the expresser’s likely emotional state, the mere presence of surrounding others of the same group led to a more basic effect on perceptual processes. In sum, not all contexts are alike and hence research on context effects should carefully assess what specific information a given context provides and how this information can influence perception and inferences regarding the emotions of others.
    No preview · Conference Paper · Jul 2015
    • "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 "

    No preview · Conference Paper · May 2015
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