In Search of the Emotional Face: Anger Versus Happiness Superiority in Visual Search

Savage RA, Lipp OV, Craig BM, Becker SI, Horstmann G (2013)
Emotion 13(4): 758-768.

Journal Article | Published | English

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Previous research has provided inconsistent results regarding visual search for emotional faces, yielding evidence for either anger superiority (i.e., more efficient search for angry faces) or happiness superiority effects (i.e., more efficient search for happy faces), suggesting that these results do not reflect on emotional expression, but on emotion (un-)related low-level perceptual features. The present study investigated possible factors mediating anger/happiness superiority effects; specifically search strategy (fixed vs. variable target search; Experiment 1), stimulus choice (Nimstim database vs. Ekman & Friesen database; Experiments 1 and 2), and emotional intensity (Experiment 3 and 3a). Angry faces were found faster than happy faces regardless of search strategy using faces from the Nimstim database (Experiment 1). By contrast, a happiness superiority effect was evident in Experiment 2 when using faces from the Ekman and Friesen database. Experiment 3 employed angry, happy, and exuberant expressions (Nimstim database) and yielded anger and happiness superiority effects, respectively, highlighting the importance of the choice of stimulus materials. Ratings of the stimulus materials collected in Experiment 3a indicate that differences in perceived emotional intensity, pleasantness, or arousal do not account for differences in search efficiency. Across three studies, the current investigation indicates that prior reports of anger or happiness superiority effects in visual search are likely to reflect on low-level visual features associated with the stimulus materials used, rather than on emotion.
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Savage RA, Lipp OV, Craig BM, Becker SI, Horstmann G. In Search of the Emotional Face: Anger Versus Happiness Superiority in Visual Search. Emotion. 2013;13(4):758-768.
Savage, R. A., Lipp, O. V., Craig, B. M., Becker, S. I., & Horstmann, G. (2013). In Search of the Emotional Face: Anger Versus Happiness Superiority in Visual Search. Emotion, 13(4), 758-768.
Savage, R. A., Lipp, O. V., Craig, B. M., Becker, S. I., and Horstmann, G. (2013). In Search of the Emotional Face: Anger Versus Happiness Superiority in Visual Search. Emotion 13, 758-768.
Savage, R.A., et al., 2013. In Search of the Emotional Face: Anger Versus Happiness Superiority in Visual Search. Emotion, 13(4), p 758-768.
R.A. Savage, et al., “In Search of the Emotional Face: Anger Versus Happiness Superiority in Visual Search”, Emotion, vol. 13, 2013, pp. 758-768.
Savage, R.A., Lipp, O.V., Craig, B.M., Becker, S.I., Horstmann, G.: In Search of the Emotional Face: Anger Versus Happiness Superiority in Visual Search. Emotion. 13, 758-768 (2013).
Savage, Ruth A., Lipp, Ottmar V., Craig, Belinda M., Becker, Stefanie I., and Horstmann, Gernot. “In Search of the Emotional Face: Anger Versus Happiness Superiority in Visual Search”. Emotion 13.4 (2013): 758-768.
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Searching for emotion or race: task-irrelevant facial cues have asymmetrical effects.
Lipp OV, Craig BM, Frost MJ, Terry DJ, Smith JR., Cogn Emot 28(6), 2014
PMID: 24350636

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