Asymmetries of Influence: Differential Effects of Body Postures on Perceptions of Emotional Facial Expressions
Mondloch, Catherine J.
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The accuracy and speed with which emotional facial expressions are identified is influenced by body postures. Two influential models predict that these congruency effects will be largest when the emotion displayed in the face is similar to that displayed in the body: the emotional seed model and the dimensional model. These models differ in whether similarity is based on physical characteristics or underlying dimensions of valence and arousal. Using a 3- alternative forced-choice task in which stimuli were presented briefly (Exp 1a) or for an unlimited time (Exp 1b) we provide evidence that congruency effects are more complex than either model predicts; the effects are asymmetrical and cannot be accounted for by similarity alone. Fearful postures are especially influential when paired with facial expressions, but not when presented in a flanker task (Exp 2). We suggest refinements to each model that may account for our results and suggest that additional studies be conducted prior to drawing strong theoretical conclusions.