Research Methods in Practice | My Assignment Tutor

1Department of Psychological SciencesResearch Methods in PracticeSCPS169H4 AAALab Report 1Anger Superiority Effect versus Happy Face AdvantageRationaleo Humans and other social animal species possess the ability to identify and interpretfacial emotions (Tracy & Robins, 2008).o Processing emotional faces can help perception of a person’s internal states such asfeelings (happiness or sadness) and intentions (Tracy & Robins, 2008); this in turncan be advantageous in dealing with social interactions.o A large body of research suggests that faces showing negative emotions, particularly,anger and hostility, are recognised with facility and efficiency. Anger signals dangerand it is thought that humans are evolutionarily predisposed to attend to negativestimuli because it is beneficial for survival. The theory whereby angry faces engageselective attention resulting in rapid identification (i.e. quick reaction times) is calledthe Anger Superiority Effect (Öhman, Lundkvist, & Esteves, 2001).o Research also suggests that reaction time to emotional upright faces have shown theso-called Happy-Face Advantage: positive emotions, such as happiness, arerecognised faster than other facial emotions (Kirita & Endo, 1995; Kirouac & Dore’,1983). It has been suggested that happy faces draw attention because they are ratedfavourably and social interactions with them are expected to be rewarding.o This study investigates the disparity between these findings to find out whichemotion is detected more quickly, if at all.Note: Students need to devise the actual hypothesis based on the literature that theyintroduce.2MethodThe Research Ethics Committee of the University of London granted ethical approval tothe research.ParticipantsSixty University students (Mage = 22.47, SD = 2.81; 33 females) participated in this study.No exclusion criteria were applied, and data of all participants were included in theanalysis.MaterialsStimuli were grayscale photos of 9 individuals showing happy, angry and neutralexpressions. The expressions were previously validated for accurately depicting theintended emotions. The target trials presented 9 faces showing: (1) 1 happy faceamong 8 neutral faces, and (2) 1 angry face among 8 neutral faces. Non-target trialsshowed all 9 neutral faces. The face of the same individual was never used twice in thesame trial: both target and non-target trials contained photos of the 9 individuals.Example of the target stimuli are shown in Figure 1.Figure 1: Example of target trials: left = an angry face among neutral faces; right =a happy face among neutral faces (from Pinkham et al., 2010).The trials were presented using a computer and responses were made using thekeyboard where only 3 keys were activated: a key to press if the faces were the same, asecond to press if the display showed one different face, and a third pressed to advanceto the next trial.3DesignThe task included 120 trials presented to participants in random order; 40 target trialsshowed the happy face among the neutral crowd, 40 target trials showed the angry faceamong the neutral crowd and 40 were non-target trials with all neutral faces. This was awithin-subject design with Emotion as the independent variable with two levels (Angry,Happy). The dependent variable was reaction time for correct response to the targettrials (trials where the angry or happy face was in the neutral crowd).ProcedureParticipants were tested individually. Participants were told that they would seedisplays containing faces showing happy, angry or neutral emotions. Their task was tojudge if the faces showed the same (non-target trials) or different emotions (targettrials). They responded by pressing “Q” on the keyboard for ‘same’, or “P” for ‘different’emotions. The task started with a fixation cross in the middle of the screen (duration:500ms), followed by a trial. The trial remained on screen until the participant’sresponse, for a maximum time of 4000ms. If participants did not respond within thattime, the program prompted them to move to the next trial with a screen showing theword “Next” in which case the next trial appeared when participants pressed the “spacebar”. Participants completed 10 practice trials before data collection to familiarise themwith the response keys.ResultsOnly Reaction Times (RTs) of correct responses on the happy and angry target trialswere included in the analysis (when participants identified correctly the happy or angryface in the neutral crowd). Each participant was assigned two scores indicating (1) theaverage RT on trials with correct identification of the happy targets, and (2) the averageRT on trials with correct identification of the angry targets.Inspection of the frequency distribution of the two variables suggested they werenormally distributed (see Appendix, Figure 1A and 2A), justifying the use of parametrictests for analysis.4As shown in Figure 2, on average, participants were faster in identifying angryfaces in the crowd (M = 2823.77ms, SD = 256.17ms) than happy faces (M = 2898.2ms,SD = 298.05ms).Figure 2: Means and SE of the means in happy targets (yellow) and angry targets(blue) RTsA dependent sample t-test showed that these RTs were non-significantly different:t(59)=1.46, n/s (p = 0.15).ReferencesKirita, T., & Endo, M. (1995). Happy face advantage in recognizing facial expressions. ActaPsychologica, 89, 149 –163.Kirouac, G., & Doré, F. Y. (1983). Accuracy and latency of judgment of facial expressions ofemotions. Perceptual and motor skills, 57(3), 683-686.Öhman, A., Lundqvist, D., & Esteves, F. (2001). The face in the crowd: A threat advantage withschematic stimuli. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 80, 381–396.Pinkham, A. E., Griffin, M., Baron, R., Sasson, N. J., & Gur, R. C. (2010). The face in the crowdeffect: anger superiority when using real faces and multiple identities. Emotion, 10(1),141.Tracy, J. L., & Robins, R. W. (2008). The automaticity of emotion recognition. Emotion, 8, 81–95.5AppendixFigure 1A: Frequency distribution of RTs correct responses on angry target trialsFigure 2A: Frequency distribution for RTs correct responses on happy target trials


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