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Hayley Lambert, Andrew Mienaltowski, J. Farley Norman; Happiness Detection in Periphery Less Difficult than Anger Detection. Journal of Vision 2016;16(12):166. doi: 10.1167/16.12.166.
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© 2017 Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology.
Facial emotion detection involves recognizing the appropriate facial features associated with the emotional state of the target. The emotional content of a facial stimulus presented in one's periphery is less salient than the emotional content of that same face when presented centrally. As a result, emotion detection in the periphery is more challenging. Angry, happy, and neutral facial expressions were presented at varying eccentricities – 5, 10, 15, and 20 degrees – from the center of the display for 250 ms simultaneously with a central stimulus. Facial stimuli were presented on both the left and right side of the display, and participants judged the gender or the emotional content of each face. For the emotion detection task, facial stimuli were blocked by emotion such that participants viewed neutral and angry stimuli or they viewed neutral and happy stimuli. The purpose of the central stimulus was to maintain the participants' focus on the center of the display. Participants' responses on trials in which they correctly classified the central stimulus were analyzed. Accurate gender detection and anger detection declined as the facial stimuli were presented further into the periphery by about 2.5% per degree of eccentricity. Detection of happiness remained relatively stable at larger eccentricities from the center of the display, ultimately declining by less than 1% per degree of eccentricity. Overall mean levels of emotion discrimination were also substantially higher for happy expressions than for angry expressions, relative to neutral (d' difference of 0.74 to 1.70 depending upon eccentricity). These findings are consistent with prior research demonstrating that, when presented in the periphery, facial features that are important for emotion recognition may be more salient and easier to interpret for happy expressions than for negative emotional expressions.
Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2016
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