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Abbie Coy, Catherine Mondloch; Emotion specificity of gaze cueing in a danger vigilance context.. Journal of Vision 2016;16(12):1388. doi: 10.1167/16.12.1388.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
In attentional cueing paradigms in which gaze direction of emotional faces serve as the cue, the magnitude of the cueing effect varies with emotion and context (e.g., threat-related; Dawel et al., 2015; Bayliss et al., 2010). In these studies, however, only two emotions were compared, making it difficult to ascertain whether the influence of emotion is highly specific (e.g., to fearful faces in a threat context) or generalises to other emotions of similar valence or arousal. To examine this question we used a Posner style cueing task in which the gaze direction of a range of emotional faces, namely happy (positive, high arousal), sad (negative, low arousal), angry, fearful, disgust (all negative, high arousal) provided non-predictive cues to the location of a forthcoming threatening or neutral target. We set a danger vigilance context by asking participants (n=64) to indicate whether each target animal was dangerous. Controlling for state anxiety (STAI), gaze cueing was significant for all emotions, ps< .001, but varied across them ps< .01. To examine the influence of valence we used happy (M=38ms) as the reference category; only sad faces differed (M=31ms), eliciting a smaller cueing effect. To examine the influence of arousal we used sad as the reference category; disgusted (M=34ms), fearful (M=47ms), and happy faces elicited larger cueing effects, with no difference for angry faces (M=32ms). These results suggest that in the context of multiple emotions cueing effects are complex. Happy faces and faces indicating indirect proximal threat (disgust, fear) showed comparable gaze cueing compared to merely negative faces (sad), with direct threat (angry) having an intermediate effect. Our findings suggest that in a threat context cueing effects are not limited to threat-related or negative emotions, but generalise across all high-arousal emotions. We are currently investigating whether this pattern holds in other contexts (e.g., pleasant, disgust-inducing).
Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2016
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