Processing facial expressions of emotion in a visual search task

the role of potential threat, configural information and stimulus presentation time

M. Willis, D. Burke

Research output: Contribution to journalMeeting abstract

Abstract

Photographic images of human threatening (angry and fearful) and non-threatening (disgusted and happy) facial expressions were used to investigate the capacity for these expressions to attract and hold visual attention. The importance of configural information when processing these facial expressions in the visual search context was also evaluated, as was the effect that restricting the stimulus presentation time had on the pattern of results. Participants were required to decide on the presence or absence of a discrepant facial expression in a series of visual search displays. There was no evidence to indicate that threatening facial expressions attract and hold visual attention more effectively than non-threatening facial expressions. Results also failed to support an opposing hypothesis suggesting that threatening facial expressions differ in their capacity to attract and hold attention. Instead, facial features played an important role in guiding visual attention, the extent of which varied depending on the stimulus presentation time. It is suggested that the ability for participants to adopt search strategies at certain stimulus presentation times and when processing specific facial expressions may underlie the apparent capacity for particular facial expressions to attract and hold visual attention reported previously.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)95-96
Number of pages2
JournalAustralian Journal of Psychology
Volume58
Issue numberSuppl.
Publication statusPublished - 2006
Event33rd Australasian Experimental Psychology Conference - University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia
Duration: 20 Apr 200623 Apr 2006

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