Humans are predisposed to attend to emotions conveyed by facial expressions. However, compulsory attraction to emotions gets challenging when multiple emotional stimuli compete for attention, as in the emotion comparison task. In this task, participants are asked to choose which of two simultaneously presented faces displays the most positive (happiest) or negative (angriest) emotion. Participants usually respond faster to the face displaying the most intense emotion. This effect is stronger for face pairs that contain globally positive rather than negative emotional faces. Both effects are consistent with an attentional capture phenomenon driven by the perceptual salience of facial expressions. In the present experiment, we studied the temporal dynamics of attentional capture in the emotion comparison task by tracking participants’ eye movements using gaze-contingent displays and responses. Our results show that, on the first fixation, participants were more accurate and dwelled longer on the left target face when it displayed the most intense emotion within the pair. On the second fixation, the pattern was reversed, with higher accuracy and longer gaze time on the right target face. Overall, our pattern of gazing behavior indicates that the typical results observed in the emotion comparison task arise from the optimal combination over time of two low-level attentional factors: the perceptual salience of emotional stimuli and the scanning habit of participants.

The temporal dynamics of emotion comparison depends on low-level attentional factors

Dissegna, Andrea;Baldassi, Giulio;Murgia, Mauro;Costa, Francesco Darek;Fantoni, Carlo
2023-01-01

Abstract

Humans are predisposed to attend to emotions conveyed by facial expressions. However, compulsory attraction to emotions gets challenging when multiple emotional stimuli compete for attention, as in the emotion comparison task. In this task, participants are asked to choose which of two simultaneously presented faces displays the most positive (happiest) or negative (angriest) emotion. Participants usually respond faster to the face displaying the most intense emotion. This effect is stronger for face pairs that contain globally positive rather than negative emotional faces. Both effects are consistent with an attentional capture phenomenon driven by the perceptual salience of facial expressions. In the present experiment, we studied the temporal dynamics of attentional capture in the emotion comparison task by tracking participants’ eye movements using gaze-contingent displays and responses. Our results show that, on the first fixation, participants were more accurate and dwelled longer on the left target face when it displayed the most intense emotion within the pair. On the second fixation, the pattern was reversed, with higher accuracy and longer gaze time on the right target face. Overall, our pattern of gazing behavior indicates that the typical results observed in the emotion comparison task arise from the optimal combination over time of two low-level attentional factors: the perceptual salience of emotional stimuli and the scanning habit of participants.
2023
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https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-023-33711-0#citeas
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11368/3044458
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