Featural vs. Holistic processing and visual sampling in the influence of social category cues on emotion recognition

Cognition and Emotion 36 (5):855-875 (2022)
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Past research demonstrates that emotion recognition is influenced by social category cues present on faces. However, little research has investigated whether holistic processing is required to observe these influences of social category information on emotion perception, and no studies have investigated whether different visual sampling strategies (i.e. differences in the allocation of attention to different regions of the face) contribute to the interaction between social cues and emotional expressions. The current study aimed to address this. Participants categorised happy and angry expressions on own- and other-race faces, and male and female faces. In Experiments 1 and 2, holistic processing was disrupted by presenting inverted faces (Experiment 1) or part faces (Experiment 2). In Experiments 3 and 4 participants’ eye-gaze to eye and mouth regions was also tracked. Disrupting holistic processing did not alter the moderating influence of sex and race cues on emotion recognition (Experiments 1, 2, 4). Gaze patterns differed as a function of emotional expression, and social category cues, however, eye-gaze patterns did not reflect response time patterns (Experiments 3 and 4). Results indicate that the interaction between social category cues and emotion does not require holistic processing and is not driven by differences in visual sampling.



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