On the interplay between familiarity and emotional expression in face perception
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- Dobel, C., Geiger, L., Bruchmann, M. et al. Psychological Research (2008) 72: 580. doi:10.1007/s00426-007-0132-4
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Traditional models of face perception (e.g. Bruce and Young 1986) stress independent routes for processing identity and emotional expression. We investigated the interplay between familiarity and emotional expression by systematically varying both factors. In contrast to earlier studies which used binary forced-choice decisions, participants had to judge the familiarity of the presented face and the emotional hedonic valence and emotional arousal of its expressed emotion (angry, happy or neutral), using rating scales. The results demonstrated symmetric, strong interactions between familiarity and expressed emotion. Thus, this study supports more recent models of face perception (Haxby et al. 2000) that were mostly based on brain imaging data. These data together with our behavioural results emphasize the interaction of emotional expression and personal identity and support approaches that propose a relative segregation of these processes, rather than completely independent coding (Calder and Young 2005).