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Orienting to emotion : a psychophysical approach

Rapid and accurate identification of emotionally meaningful stimuli has important benefits related to survival. In the current thesis, speeded detection of emotionally meaningful signals, including emotional facial expressions and emotional body postures, was investigated using two main experimental techniques; forced choice discrimination and exogenous cueing. To provide a direct measure of attention, and to further elucidate the time-course of emotional bias, the response mode of interest (manual or saccadic) and presentation duration of the stimuli (Short: 20ms) or (Long: 100ms; 500ms) was varied systematically across the experiments. Overall a consistent pattern of results was found where saccadic responses showed emotional bias at short, but not long stimulus durations, whereas manual responses evidenced emotional bias only at long stimulus durations. Besides from being detected more rapidly, evidence also shows that emotional stimuli are more likely than neutral stimuli to enter awareness. To further investigate this theory, the final series of experiments in this thesis employed a binocular rivalry paradigm. It was found that emotional facial expressions were associated with longer periods of dominance (i.e. they were perceived for longer durations) than neutral facial expressions. Taken together, the experiments reported in this thesis showed that attention is biased towards emotion conveyed not only by the face, but also by the body. Notably, both emotional facial expressions and body postures were detected more quickly than their neutral counterparts using saccades and manual responses and further, emotional facial expressions were more likely to be perceived in a binocular rivalry situation.
Date January 2009
CreatorsBannerman, Rachel L.
PublisherUniversity of Aberdeen
Source SetsEthos UK
Detected LanguageEnglish
TypeElectronic Thesis or Dissertation

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