L.F. van Dillen
W.W. van Dijk
- Looking with different eyes: The psychological meaning of categorisation goals moderates facial reactivity to facial expressions
- Cognition & Emotion
- Volume | Issue number
- 29 | 8
- Pages (from-to)
- Document type
- Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences (FMG)
- Psychology Research Institute (PsyRes)
In the present research we examined whether the psychological meaning of people's categorisation goals affects facial muscle activity in response to facial expressions of emotion. We had participants associate eye colour (blue, brown) with either a personality trait (extraversion) or a physical trait (light frequency) and asked them to use these associations in a speeded categorisation task of angry, disgusted, happy and neutral faces while assessing participants' response times and facial muscle activity. We predicted that participants would respond differentially to the emotional faces when the categorisation criteria allowed for inferences about a target's thoughts, feelings or behaviour (i.e., when categorising extraversion), but not when these lacked any social meaning (i.e., when categorising light frequency). Indeed, emotional faces triggered facial reactions to facial expressions when participants categorised extraversion, but not when they categorised light frequency. In line with this, only when categorising extraversion did participants' response times indicate a negativity bias replicating previous results. Together, these findings provide further evidence for the contextual nature of people's selective responses to the emotions expressed by others.
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