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Expecting Happy Women, Not Detecting the Angry Ones: Detection and Perceived Intensity of Facial Anger, Happiness, and Emotionality
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Psychology.
2011 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Faces provide cues for judgments regarding the emotional state of individuals. Using signal-detection methodology and a standardized stimulus set, the overall aim of the present dissertation was to investigate the detection of emotional facial expressions (i.e., angry and happy faces) with neutral expressions as the nontarget stimuli. Study I showed a happy-superiority effect and a bias towards reporting happiness in female faces. As work progressed, questions arose regarding whether the emotional stimuli were equal with regard to perceived strength of emotion, and whether the neutral faces were perceived as neutral. To further investigate the effect of stimulus quality on the obtained findings, Study II was designed such that the facial stimuli were rated on scales of happy-sad, angry-friendly, and emotionality. Results showed that ‘neutral’ facial expressions were not rated as neutral, and that there was a greater perceived distance between happy and neutral faces than between angry and neutral faces. These results were used to adjust the detectability measures to compensate for the varying distances of the angry and happy stimuli from the neutral stimuli in the emotional space. The happy-superiority effect was weakened, while an angry-female disadvantage remained. However, as these results were based upon different participant groups for detection and emotional rating, Study III was designed to investigate whether the results from Studies I and II could be replicated in a design where the same participants performed both tasks. Again, the results showed the non-neutrality of ‘neutral’ expressions and that happiness was more easily detected than anger, as shown in general emotion as well as specific emotion detection. Taken together, the overall results of the present dissertation demonstrate a happy-superiority effect that was greater for female than male faces, that angry-female faces were the most difficult to detect, and a bias to report female faces as happy.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Department of Psychology, Stockholm University , 2011. , 79 p.
Keyword [en]
Signal Detection (Perception), Happiness, Anger, Face Perception, Facial Expressions, Superiority Effects, Gender Differences, Response Bias, Scaling, Euclidean Distance
National Category
Psychology
Research subject
Psychology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-57167ISBN: 978-91-7447-304-9OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-57167DiVA: diva2:414454
Public defence
2011-06-10, David Magnussonsalen (U31), Frescati Hagväg 8, Stockholm, Sweden, 13:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Note
At the time of the doctoral defense, the following papers were unpublished and had a status as follows: Paper 1: In press. Paper 2: Manuscript. Paper 3: Manuscript.Available from: 2011-05-12 Created: 2011-05-03 Last updated: 2011-10-20Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. Happy to see me, aren't you, Sally?: Signal detection analysis of emotion detection in briefly presented male and female faces
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Happy to see me, aren't you, Sally?: Signal detection analysis of emotion detection in briefly presented male and female faces
2011 (English)In: Scandinavian Journal of Psychology, ISSN 0036-5564, E-ISSN 1467-9450, Vol. 52, no 4, 361-368 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Using signal detection methods, possible effects of emotion type (happy, angry), gender of the stimulus face, and gender of the participant on the detectionand response bias of emotion in briefly presented faces were investigated. Fifty-seven participants (28 men, 29 women) viewed 90 briefly presented faces(30 happy, 30 angry, and 30 neutral, each with 15 male and 15 female faces) answering yes if the face was perceived as emotional and no if it was not perceivedas emotional. Sensitivity [d’, z(hit rate) minus z(false alarm rate)] and response bias (b, likelihood ratio of ‘‘signal plus noise’’ vs. ‘‘noise’’) weremeasured for each face combination for each presentation time (6.25, 12.50, 18.75, 25.00, 31.25 ms). The d’ values were higher for happy than for angryfaces and higher for angry-male than for angry-female faces, and there were no effects of gender-of-participant. Results also suggest a greater tendency forparticipants to judge happy-female faces as emotional, as shown by lower b values for these faces as compared to the other emotion-gender combinations.This happy-female response bias suggests, at least, a partial explanation to happy-superiority effects in studies where performance is only measured as percentcorrect responses, and, in general, that women are expected to be happy.

Keyword
face perception, signal detection (perception), facial expressions, gender differences, emotion, happiness, anger, response bias
National Category
Psychology
Research subject
Psychology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-57160 (URN)10.1111/j.1467-9450.2011.00879.x (DOI)000292743900006 ()
Available from: 2011-05-03 Created: 2011-05-03 Last updated: 2012-01-25Bibliographically approved
2. The non-neutrality of 'neutral' faces: Effect on discriminability of emotional expressions
Open this publication in new window or tab >>The non-neutrality of 'neutral' faces: Effect on discriminability of emotional expressions
(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The main purpose of this study was to examine whether ‘neutral’ facial expressions are ratedas neutral. Facial expressions designated as angry, happy, and neutral were rated on anger,happiness, and emotionality. There were no significant differences in mean rating valuesbetween happy and angry faces on their relevant scales; neutral faces were rated somewhatangry and somewhat sad. Therefore, happy faces differed more from neutral faces than didangry faces. Furthermore, the sensitivity measures reported by Pixton (in press) were adjustedusing the mean difference value (MD) on each of the scale types between each genderemotioncombination and its neutral counterpart. The results showed that the general happysuperiorityand angry-male advantage effects disappeared, while angry-female faces weremore difficult to discriminate. These findings suggest that presumably ‘neutral’ faces are notnecessarily neutral, which ultimately may affect the discriminability of emotional facialexpressions.

Keyword
emotion, face perception, facial expressions, scaling, Euclidean distance, signal detection (perception)
National Category
Psychology
Research subject
Psychology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-57165 (URN)
Available from: 2011-05-03 Created: 2011-05-03 Last updated: 2016-06-22Bibliographically approved
3. Are you emotional or simply happy?: Detection and perceived intensity of anger, happiness, and emotionality
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Are you emotional or simply happy?: Detection and perceived intensity of anger, happiness, and emotionality
(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The purpose of the present study was to replicate the happy-superiority effect, which wasgreater for female than for male faces, found by Pixton and colleagues (in press, Pixton,Hellström, Englund, & Larsson, 2011) with a within-group study (Experiment 1) and abetween-group study (Experiment 2). All participants viewed the same pictures of male andfemale facial expressions (Tottenham, Tanaka, Leon et al., 2009) at three presentation times(12.50, 18.75, 25.00 ms), completing both a emotion-detection task (Task 1) and an emotionratingtask (Task 2). In Task 1, designed as a signal-detection task, participants answered yesif the face was emotional in Experiment 1, happy (happy-detection group) or angry (angrydetectiongroup) in Experiment 2, and no if not. In Task 2, participants rated each facestimulus on anger, happiness, and emotionality. Emotion sensitivities, d's, found in Task 1were adjusted using the differences in emotion-rating between each emotion-gender face andits neutral counterpart. For both Experiment 1 and 2, the d' values in Task 1 were greater forhappy faces than for angry faces, and “neutral” faces were not rated neutral in the differentemotion-type scales in Task 2. Taking this into account, the adjusted d' values were higher forthe happy-face group than for the angry-face group for the two longest times. Also, theadjusted d' values for angry-female faces remained lower than the other emotion-gender facecombinations. Together with results from Pixton’s (in press, 2011) between-groups study, thepresent within-participants results suggest that in emotion detection, happiness takesprecedence.

Keyword
signal detection (perception), scaling, emotional face perception, Euclidean distance
National Category
Psychology
Research subject
Psychology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-57166 (URN)
Available from: 2011-05-03 Created: 2011-05-03 Last updated: 2011-05-04Bibliographically approved

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