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Jennifer D. Bennett, Alejandro Lleras, Chris Oriet, James T. Enns; A Negative compatibility effect in priming of emotional faces. Journal of Vision 2007;7(9):936. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/7.9.936.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
Visual priming is the influence of a previously presented image on the response to a current image. In most cases, this influence is positive, speeding target identification. Yet under some conditions, the influence is reversed, as in the Negative Compatibility Effect (NCE). The NCE was first demonstrated in a simple arrow discrimination task. A prime arrow was presented briefly, followed by a mask pattern designed to reduce prime visibility to near-chance levels, and then a clearly-visible target arrow was presented. Surprisingly, participants responded most rapidly when the target was opposite in direction to the preceding prime.
The present study extends the exploration of the NCE to the classification of emotion in human faces. When inverted faces with neutral expressions were presented as flankers beside emotional prime and target faces, only strong positive priming occurred. However, when the neutral faces resembled the target faces in geometry (upright orientation), time (flashing briefly), and space (appearing in the same location), positive priming gradually weakened and turned into negative priming.
These result demonstrate that the NCE is not limited to simple stimuli, pre-existing response mappings, or to reduced prime visibility. Moreover, they have important implications for theories of the NCE, including unconscious motor inhibition theories — an NCE does not depend on reduced prime visibility — (Eimer & Schlaghecken, 1998; Klapp & Hinkley, 2002, Praamstra & Seiss, 2005), object updating — the priming effects extend beyond the representation of single objects to entire conceptual categories — (Lleras & Enns, 2004; Verleger et al., 2004), and source confusion and discounting — source confusion is influenced by the features of the visible mask that occurs between prime and target (Huber, Shiffrin, Lyle & Ruys, 2001; Huber, Shiffrin, Lyle & Quach, 2002).
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