What you want to avoid is what you see: Social avoidance motivation affects the interpretation of emotional faces
- 674 Downloads
This study investigated the effects of habitual social approach and avoidance motivation on the classification of facial expressions of different visual clarity. Participants (N = 78) categorized partially masked emotional faces expressing either anger or happiness as positive or negative. Participants generally tended to interpret the facial expressions in a positive way. This positivity effect was reduced when persons were highly avoidance motivated. Social avoidance motivation predicted fewer positive and more negative interpretations in the least visible condition that provided extremely little information on the facial expression. Thus, people high in social avoidance motivation are likely to have anticipated angry faces as the facial stimuli offered only minimal information. The results for social approach motivation did not reach statistical significance. To conclude, it seems that persons who are most afraid of having negative social interactions (i.e., those high in social avoidance motivation), anticipate and interpret social information in the most negative way, which could lead to the reinforcement of the avoidance motivation.
KeywordsSocial motivation Approach Avoidance Emotional faces Social-information processing
This research was supported by a Grant of the funding by Suzanne and Hans Biäsch Foundation for Applied Psychology, Switzerland (principle investigator: Jana Nikitin). We thank the Life-Management team for helpful discussions of the work reported in this paper.
- Ainsworth, M. D. S., Bell, S. M., & Stayton, D. J. (1974). Infant–mother attachment and social development: Socialisation as a product of reciprocal responsiveness to signals. In M. J. M. Richards (Ed.), The integration of a child into a social world (pp. 99–135). London: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
- Cacioppo, J. T., & Hawkley, L. C. (2005). People thinking about people: The vicious cycle of being a social outcast in one’s own mind. In K. D. Williams, J. P. Forgas, & W. von Hippel (Eds.), The social outcast: Ostracism, social exclusion, rejection, and bullying (pp. 91–108). New York: Psychology Press.Google Scholar
- Gable, S. L., & Berkman, E. T. (2008). Making connections and avoiding loneliness: Approach and avoidance social motives and goals. In A. J. Elliot (Ed.), Handbook of approach and avoidance motivation (pp. 204–216). New York: Psychology Press.Google Scholar
- Jarvis, B. G. (2004). Direct RT (Version 2004.3.24). New York, NY: Empirisoft Corporation.Google Scholar
- Lee, I. A., & Preacher, K. J. (2013). Calculation for the test of the difference between two dependent correlations with one variable in common [Computer software]. Retrieved from http://quantpsy.org.
- McClelland, D. C. (1985). Human motivation. New York: Scott, Foresman.Google Scholar