Fast and slow object priming of fearful and happy facial expressions
62.25, Wednesday, May 15, 10:45 am - 12:45 pm, Royal Ballroom 4-5
James Tanaka1, Buyun Xu1, Meredith Hughes1, David Fainstein1, Terry Lin1; 1Department of Psychology, Univeristy of Victoria, British Columbia, Canada
Facial expressions are not perceived in isolation, but are embedded in a complex perceptual and social environment. Contextual factors, such as body gesture and emotional scene, have been shown to influence the processes of expression recognition. However, it is not known how objects affect the speed at which a facial expression is recognized. In this experiment, a person presenting a neutral expression was shown with either a positive emotional object (money, birthday cake), a negative emotional object (spider, gun) or a neutral object (stapler, spoon). The objects appeared at one of four stimulus onset asynchronies (SOA) (0 ms, 100 ms, 300 ms, 500 ms). Following the SOA interval, the neutral expression of the person changed to a happy or a fearful expression. The participants task was to categorize the expression as "happy" or "fear" as quickly and accurately as possible. Overall, reaction time was faster when the expression was accompanied by congruent objects than when shown with incongruent or neutral objects. Congruency also interacted with emotion and SOA. At the shortest SOA (0 ms), participants were faster to categorize the "fear" expression when preceded by the congruent negative objects than when preceded by incongruent positive objects. At the longest SOA (500 ms), participants were faster to categorize the "happy" expression when preceded by congruent positive objects than when preceded by neutral or incongruent negative objects. The obtained results demonstrate that single objects with strong emotional associations can prime the recognition of facial expressions. Object priming for happy and fearful expressions seem to follow separate timing trajectories. Whereas fear is a "fast" emotion that is rapidly primed by a negative object, happy is a "slow" emotion that is gradually primed by a positive object.