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Eye tracking the face in the crowd task: why are angry faces found more quickly?

Shasteen JR, Sasson NJ, Pinkham AE - PLoS ONE (2014)

Bottom Line: Using a task, with real faces and multiple identities, the current study replicated the face in the crowd effect and then, via eye tracking, found greater support for the target orienting hypothesis.Across both the classical search asymmetry paradigm (i.e., one happy target in a crowd of angry distractors vs. one angry target in a crowd of happy distractors) and the constant distractor paradigm (i.e., one happy target in a crowd of neutral distractors vs. one angry target in a crowd of neutral distractors), fewer distractors were fixated before first fixating angry targets relative to happy targets, with no difference in the processing efficiency of distractors.These results suggest that the face in the crowd effect on this task is supported to a greater degree by attentional patterns associated with properties of target rather those of the crowd.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences, The University of Texas at Dallas, Dallas, Texas, United States of America.

ABSTRACT
Among a crowd of distractor faces, threatening or angry target faces are identified more quickly and accurately than are nonthreatening or happy target faces, a finding known as the "face in the crowd effect." Two perceptual explanations of the effect have been proposed: (1) the "target orienting" hypothesis (i.e., threatening targets orient attention more quickly than do nonthreatening targets and (2) the "distractor processing" hypothesis (i.e., nonthreatening distractors paired with a threatening target are processed more efficiently than vice versa, leading to quicker detection of threatening targets). Using a task, with real faces and multiple identities, the current study replicated the face in the crowd effect and then, via eye tracking, found greater support for the target orienting hypothesis. Across both the classical search asymmetry paradigm (i.e., one happy target in a crowd of angry distractors vs. one angry target in a crowd of happy distractors) and the constant distractor paradigm (i.e., one happy target in a crowd of neutral distractors vs. one angry target in a crowd of neutral distractors), fewer distractors were fixated before first fixating angry targets relative to happy targets, with no difference in the processing efficiency of distractors. These results suggest that the face in the crowd effect on this task is supported to a greater degree by attentional patterns associated with properties of target rather those of the crowd.

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Related in: MedlinePlus

Target orienting and distractor processing.Target orienting (average number of distractors fixated before first target fixation) on the left and distractor processing (average duration of fixation time per distractor viewed before first target fixation) on the right for correct trials. *Significant at p<.05.
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pone-0093914-g004: Target orienting and distractor processing.Target orienting (average number of distractors fixated before first target fixation) on the left and distractor processing (average duration of fixation time per distractor viewed before first target fixation) on the right for correct trials. *Significant at p<.05.

Mentions: The repeated measures ANOVA for the target orienting hypothesis revealed a significant main effect of target type: participants fixated fewer distractors before first fixating angry targets (2.71) than before first fixating happy targets (3.20; F (1, 27) = 14.80, p = .001, ηp2 = .35). There was no main effect of distractor type, F (1, 27) = 2.86, p = .102, ηp2 = .10, indicating that the number of neutral and emotional distractors fixated prior to target did not significantly differ. The interaction between target type and distractor type was also not significant, F (1, 27) = 1.56, p = .223, ηp2 = .06, suggesting that, regardless of distractor type, fewer distractors were fixated before first fixating angry targets than before first fixating happy targets. To determine if the target orienting advantage for angry faces persisted across both the search asymmetry and constant distractor paradigms, follow-up tests directly assessed the target orienting hypothesis within each. For the search asymmetry paradigm, fewer happy distractors were fixated before first fixating angry targets (2.75) than angry distractors were fixated before first fixating happy targets (3.46; t (27) = 2.51, p = .018, d = 0.53). Similarly, within the constant distractor paradigm, fewer neutral distractors were fixated before first fixating angry targets (2.66) than before first fixating happy targets (2.92; t (32) = 2.07, p = .047, d = 0.35). These results suggest that the target orienting hypothesis is supported in the current task across both search paradigms (see Figure 4).


Eye tracking the face in the crowd task: why are angry faces found more quickly?

Shasteen JR, Sasson NJ, Pinkham AE - PLoS ONE (2014)

Target orienting and distractor processing.Target orienting (average number of distractors fixated before first target fixation) on the left and distractor processing (average duration of fixation time per distractor viewed before first target fixation) on the right for correct trials. *Significant at p<.05.
© Copyright Policy
Related In: Results  -  Collection

License
Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC3974862&req=5

pone-0093914-g004: Target orienting and distractor processing.Target orienting (average number of distractors fixated before first target fixation) on the left and distractor processing (average duration of fixation time per distractor viewed before first target fixation) on the right for correct trials. *Significant at p<.05.
Mentions: The repeated measures ANOVA for the target orienting hypothesis revealed a significant main effect of target type: participants fixated fewer distractors before first fixating angry targets (2.71) than before first fixating happy targets (3.20; F (1, 27) = 14.80, p = .001, ηp2 = .35). There was no main effect of distractor type, F (1, 27) = 2.86, p = .102, ηp2 = .10, indicating that the number of neutral and emotional distractors fixated prior to target did not significantly differ. The interaction between target type and distractor type was also not significant, F (1, 27) = 1.56, p = .223, ηp2 = .06, suggesting that, regardless of distractor type, fewer distractors were fixated before first fixating angry targets than before first fixating happy targets. To determine if the target orienting advantage for angry faces persisted across both the search asymmetry and constant distractor paradigms, follow-up tests directly assessed the target orienting hypothesis within each. For the search asymmetry paradigm, fewer happy distractors were fixated before first fixating angry targets (2.75) than angry distractors were fixated before first fixating happy targets (3.46; t (27) = 2.51, p = .018, d = 0.53). Similarly, within the constant distractor paradigm, fewer neutral distractors were fixated before first fixating angry targets (2.66) than before first fixating happy targets (2.92; t (32) = 2.07, p = .047, d = 0.35). These results suggest that the target orienting hypothesis is supported in the current task across both search paradigms (see Figure 4).

Bottom Line: Using a task, with real faces and multiple identities, the current study replicated the face in the crowd effect and then, via eye tracking, found greater support for the target orienting hypothesis.Across both the classical search asymmetry paradigm (i.e., one happy target in a crowd of angry distractors vs. one angry target in a crowd of happy distractors) and the constant distractor paradigm (i.e., one happy target in a crowd of neutral distractors vs. one angry target in a crowd of neutral distractors), fewer distractors were fixated before first fixating angry targets relative to happy targets, with no difference in the processing efficiency of distractors.These results suggest that the face in the crowd effect on this task is supported to a greater degree by attentional patterns associated with properties of target rather those of the crowd.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences, The University of Texas at Dallas, Dallas, Texas, United States of America.

ABSTRACT
Among a crowd of distractor faces, threatening or angry target faces are identified more quickly and accurately than are nonthreatening or happy target faces, a finding known as the "face in the crowd effect." Two perceptual explanations of the effect have been proposed: (1) the "target orienting" hypothesis (i.e., threatening targets orient attention more quickly than do nonthreatening targets and (2) the "distractor processing" hypothesis (i.e., nonthreatening distractors paired with a threatening target are processed more efficiently than vice versa, leading to quicker detection of threatening targets). Using a task, with real faces and multiple identities, the current study replicated the face in the crowd effect and then, via eye tracking, found greater support for the target orienting hypothesis. Across both the classical search asymmetry paradigm (i.e., one happy target in a crowd of angry distractors vs. one angry target in a crowd of happy distractors) and the constant distractor paradigm (i.e., one happy target in a crowd of neutral distractors vs. one angry target in a crowd of neutral distractors), fewer distractors were fixated before first fixating angry targets relative to happy targets, with no difference in the processing efficiency of distractors. These results suggest that the face in the crowd effect on this task is supported to a greater degree by attentional patterns associated with properties of target rather those of the crowd.

Show MeSH
Related in: MedlinePlus