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Jessie J. Peissig, Shiela Kelley, Carol M. Huynh, Erin D. Browning; The Role of Familiarity and Sex in Recognizing Spontaneous Emotional Expressions. Journal of Vision 2012;12(9):963. doi: 10.1167/12.9.963.
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The purpose of this study was to explore how familiarity with a face and the sex of the recognizer might interact in an emotion recognition task. Within the field of emotion recognition there have been numerous studies exploring the role of familiarity in emotion recognition. It seems plausible to propose that the more familiar someone is, for example a friend or family member, the more likely that the person’s expression will be identified accurately. However, numerous studies using posed expressions have found no improvement for recognizing emotions of familiar faces compared to unfamiliar faces. Another factor that may affect a person’s skill at recognizing emotions is sex. Prior studies have indicated that women tend to identify emotions more accurately than males (Hoffman, et al., 2010; Montirosso, et al., 2009; Wagner, 1990). We utilized genuine, spontaneous emotional expressions. Participants were familiarized with happy expressions and tested with the following expressions: confused, disgust and neutral. The type of emotional expression (confused, disgust, or neutral) was significant for male and female participants in both accuracy and response times. Confusion was the emotion most difficult to identify for males and females. Although a main effect of familiarity was not observed, female participants showed a two-way interaction between expression type (familiar or unfamiliar) and emotional expression (confused, disgust or neutral). Females showed an advantage of familiarity when labeling confused faces. These results indicate that females are better able than males to take advantage of familiarity with a face when recognizing emotions, but only when the emotion is difficult to identify. Thus, the advantage engendered by being familiar with a face may be specific to conditions where recognition is more challenging and the recognizer is able to take advantage of previous experience.
Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2012
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