Approach-avoidance of facial affect is moderated by the presence of an observer-irrelevant trigger

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Abstract

This study examined whether approach-avoidance related behaviour elicited by facial affect is moderated by the presence of an observer-irrelevant trigger that may influence the observer's attributions of the actor's emotion. Participants were shown happy, disgusted, and neutral facial expressions. Half of these were presented with a plausible trigger of the expression (a drink). Approach-avoidance related behaviour was indexed explicitly through a questionnaire (measuring intentions) and implicitly through a manikin version of the affective Simon task (measuring automatic behavioural tendencies). In the absence of an observer-irrelevant trigger, participants expressed the intention to avoid disgusted and approach happy facial expressions. Participants also showed a stronger approach tendency towards happy than towards disgusted facial expressions. The presence of the observer-irrelevant trigger had a moderating effect, decreasing the intention to approach happy and to avoid disgusted expressions. The trigger had no moderating effect on the approach-avoidance tendencies. Thus the influence of an observer-irrelevant trigger appears to reflect more of a controlled than automatic process.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)265-272
Number of pages8
JournalMotivation and Emotion
Volume41
Issue number2
Early online date2-Nov-2016
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Apr-2017

Keywords

  • Social cognition
  • Emotion
  • Context
  • Attribution
  • Static versus dynamic
  • EXPRESSIONS
  • EMOTION
  • DISGUST
  • BEHAVIORS
  • MEN

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