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Victoria Foglia, Haichao Zhang, Jennifer Walsh, M.D. Rutherford; The development of emotion perception strategies in children.. Journal of Vision 2018;18(10):567. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/18.10.567.
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Introduction. Typically developing adults use a template-matching strategy when perceiving emotional facial expressions (Skinner & Benton, 2010). Tolerance of expression exaggeration allows a test of template matching: an extremely exaggerated expression would no longer match the stored template, but would still agree with a rule-based emotion perception strategy (Rutherford & McIntosh, 2007; Walsh, Vida, and Rutherford, 2014). The current study examines the emotion perception strategies of children between 6 and 15 years, to examine when the template matching strategy develops. Methods. Participants completed two tasks. In the Emotion task participants viewed pairs of happy or sad faces, blocked by emotion, with varying levels of exaggeration. They were asked to select the face that looked closest to how a happy (or sad) person would really look in real life. In the Realism task, participants saw the same stimuli but were asked to pick the most realistic face. Results. Using proportion of trials on which the more exaggerated face was chosen as the dependent variable, performance differed across age groups for the Emotions task but not the Realism task. A Mann-Whitney revealed that the youngest age group was more likely to select the exaggerated faces (Mdn=0.85) compared to the oldest age group (Mdn=0.125), U = 22.50, p = 0.024. There were no significant differences for the Realism task, χ2(2) = 1.28, p = 0.527. Similiarly, for the Emotions Task, results revealed a significant negative correlation between age and proportion of exaggerated faces selected, (r = -0.350, n = 34, p =.042). Tolerance for exaggerated faces decreases with age in the emotion perception task. This correlation was not significant for the Realism task (r = -.141, n = 34, p = .427). These results suggest that the use of a template-based strategy increases between 6 and 15 years of age.
Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2018
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