Date Published: April 13, 2016
Publisher: Public Library of Science
Author(s): Reiko Sawada, Wataru Sato, Shota Uono, Takanori Kochiyama, Yasutaka Kubota, Sayaka Yoshimura, Motomi Toichi, Marina A. Pavlova.
The rapid detection of emotional signals from facial expressions is fundamental for human social interaction. The personality factor of neuroticism modulates the processing of various types of emotional facial expressions; however, its effect on the detection of emotional facial expressions remains unclear. In this study, participants with high- and low-neuroticism scores performed a visual search task to detect normal expressions of anger and happiness, and their anti-expressions within a crowd of neutral expressions. Anti-expressions contained an amount of visual changes equivalent to those found in normal expressions compared to neutral expressions, but they were usually recognized as neutral expressions. Subjective emotional ratings in response to each facial expression stimulus were also obtained. Participants with high-neuroticism showed an overall delay in the detection of target facial expressions compared to participants with low-neuroticism. Additionally, the high-neuroticism group showed higher levels of arousal to facial expressions compared to the low-neuroticism group. These data suggest that neuroticism modulates the detection of emotional facial expressions in healthy participants; high levels of neuroticism delay overall detection of facial expressions and enhance emotional arousal in response to facial expressions.
Communication via facial expressions is a fundamental component of human social interaction. The ability to immediately detect emotional signals from facial expressions enables the receiver to interpret emotional states, anticipate the subsequent actions of the sender, and choose the appropriate response.
To investigate the modulatory effect of neuroticism on rapid detection of emotional facial expressions, we asked participants to perform a visual search task in which those with high and low scores of neuroticism detected normal expressions of anger and happiness, as well as their anti-expressions, within crowds of neutral expressions in photographs. We also collected subjective emotional ratings in response to facial expressions.