The Visual Search versus Categorisation Discrepancy: A Perspective on Processing Facial Expressions of Emotion

Daniel Madden (2010). The Visual Search versus Categorisation Discrepancy: A Perspective on Processing Facial Expressions of Emotion Honours Thesis, School of Psychology, The University of Queensland.

       
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Author Daniel Madden
Thesis Title The Visual Search versus Categorisation Discrepancy: A Perspective on Processing Facial Expressions of Emotion
School, Centre or Institute School of Psychology
Institution The University of Queensland
Publication date 2010
Thesis type Honours Thesis
Supervisor Lipp, Ottmar V.
Total pages 61
Abstract/Summary This paper investigated a discrepancy between two paradigms used to assess the processing of facial expressions of emotion. Although visual search studies have found robust evidence suggesting that angry expressions are detected faster than happy expressions, categorisation studies have consistently demonstrated the faster categorisation of happy expressions (Hugenberg, 2005). The current study aimed to reconcile these seemingly inconsistent findings, by introducing an umbrella paradigm able to assess both detection and categorisation within the same methodological framework. Twenty-four participants each completed two tasks. Trials consisted of a target emotion presented in the centre, followed by a surrounding matrix of neutral background faces. Either an angry face, a happy face, or no emotional face was presented within the surrounding array of neutral faces. Participants specified whether the target emotion was present or absent within the background and the response time was measured. The first task assessed detection by using a picture in the centre to define the target emotion. The second task assessed detection and categorisation by using a word to define the target emotion. It was hypothesised that the first task would show the angry face advantage that is characteristic of detection, whereas the added categorisation component of the second task would produce a residual happy face advantage that is characteristic of categorisation. Contrary to hypotheses, responses in the first task were faster for happy faces. This was attributed to the use of a labelling strategy to facilitate matching. Although responses were faster for happy faces in the second task as expected, a possible alternative explanation for this result was identified. These findings were consistent with a single process operating across the different paradigms, implying that methodological differences were responsible for the discrepant results. The paradigm used in the current study can be incorporated into future research designs for additional perspective on processing facial expressions of emotion.

 
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Created: Tue, 05 Apr 2011, 14:36:51 EST by Lucy O'Brien on behalf of School of Psychology