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Be Happy Not Sad for Your Youth: The Effect of Emotional Expression on Age Perception.

Hass NC, Weston TD, Lim SL - PLoS ONE (2016)

Bottom Line: Perceived age is a psychosocial factor that can influence both with whom and how we choose to interact socially.College-aged participants were asked to sort the emotional and neutral expressions of male facial stimuli that had been morphed across eight age levels into categories of either "young" or "old." Our results indicated that faces at the lower age levels were more likely to be categorized as old when they showed a sad facial expression compared to neutral expressions.Our findings suggest that emotion interacts with age perception such that happy expression increases the threshold for an old decision, while sad expression decreases the threshold for an old decision in a young adult sample.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Department of Psychology, University of Missouri-Kansas City, Kansas City, Missouri, United States of America.

ABSTRACT
Perceived age is a psychosocial factor that can influence both with whom and how we choose to interact socially. Though intuition tells us that a smile makes us look younger, surprisingly little empirical evidence exists to explain how age-irrelevant emotional expressions bias the subjective decision threshold for age. We examined the role that emotional expression plays in the process of judging one's age from a face. College-aged participants were asked to sort the emotional and neutral expressions of male facial stimuli that had been morphed across eight age levels into categories of either "young" or "old." Our results indicated that faces at the lower age levels were more likely to be categorized as old when they showed a sad facial expression compared to neutral expressions. Mirroring that, happy faces were more often judged as young at higher age levels than neutral faces. Our findings suggest that emotion interacts with age perception such that happy expression increases the threshold for an old decision, while sad expression decreases the threshold for an old decision in a young adult sample.

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A. Average probability of old responses as a function of age and emotional expressions of faces. B. Response times of age decisions. Error bars denote the standard error of the mean. * p < .05, ** p < .01 compared to neutral faces (controls). C. Psychometric curve fits. For each emotional expression, psychometric curves were separately fitted by using the Naka-Rushton response function. A leftward-shift of the psychometric curve of sad faces (blue line) and a rightward-shift of the psychometric curve of happy faces (red line) compared to neutral faces (gray line) were observed. A dotted horizontal line represents the 50% probability of an old decision.
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pone.0152093.g002: A. Average probability of old responses as a function of age and emotional expressions of faces. B. Response times of age decisions. Error bars denote the standard error of the mean. * p < .05, ** p < .01 compared to neutral faces (controls). C. Psychometric curve fits. For each emotional expression, psychometric curves were separately fitted by using the Naka-Rushton response function. A leftward-shift of the psychometric curve of sad faces (blue line) and a rightward-shift of the psychometric curve of happy faces (red line) compared to neutral faces (gray line) were observed. A dotted horizontal line represents the 50% probability of an old decision.

Mentions: First, we performed a 3 (EMOTION: Sad, Neutral, Happy) by 8 (AGE: 30 to 65 years old in 5 years increments) repeated-measures ANOVA on the proportions of old decisions. Means and standard deviations are shown in Table 1. The ANOVA result revealed a significant 2-way interaction effect of EMOTION × AGE, F(14,518) = 20.66, p < .01, ηp2 = .36. We also observed main effects of EMOTION, F(2,74) = 94.73, p < .01, ηp2 = .72, and AGE, F(7,259) = 289.76, p < .01, ηp2 = .89. To clarify the interaction effect through simple effect analyses, we performed one-way repeated-measures ANOVAs for each age levels. Then, we conducted subsequent post-hoc comparisons separately for sad and happy affects with neutral affect (control). For all age levels, one-way ANOVA results were significant, all p < .05. However, in the post-hoc comparisons (see Fig 2A), sad faces were more frequently judged as old compared to neutral faces in a range of the lowest age of 30 through 55 years old, 30: F(1,74) = 17.11, p < .01, ηp2 = .32; 35: F(1,74) = 43.31, p < .01, ηp2 = .54; 40: F(1,74) = 65.10, p < .01, ηp2 = .64; 45: F(1,74) = 46.85, p < .01, ηp2 = .56; 50: F(1,74) = 9.42, p < .01, ηp2 = .20; 55: F(1,74) = 5.69, p < .05, ηp2 = .13. As predicted, positive affect revealed the opposite pattern of results. Happy faces were less frequently judged as old compared to neutral from 40 to the highest age of 65 years old, 40: F(1,74) = 16.81, p < .01, ηp2 = .64; 45: F(1,74) = 64.39, p < .01, ηp2 = .56; 50: F(1,74) = 109.22, p < .01, ηp2 = .75; 55: F(1,74) = 64.50, p < .01, ηp2 = .65; 60: F(1,74) = 43.91, p < .01, ηp2 = .54; 65: F(1,74) = 38.30, p < .01, ηp2 = .51. These findings explain the interaction effect we observed—the effect of task-irrelevant negative and positive emotional expressions of facial stimuli interacted with the morphed age levels.


Be Happy Not Sad for Your Youth: The Effect of Emotional Expression on Age Perception.

Hass NC, Weston TD, Lim SL - PLoS ONE (2016)

A. Average probability of old responses as a function of age and emotional expressions of faces. B. Response times of age decisions. Error bars denote the standard error of the mean. * p < .05, ** p < .01 compared to neutral faces (controls). C. Psychometric curve fits. For each emotional expression, psychometric curves were separately fitted by using the Naka-Rushton response function. A leftward-shift of the psychometric curve of sad faces (blue line) and a rightward-shift of the psychometric curve of happy faces (red line) compared to neutral faces (gray line) were observed. A dotted horizontal line represents the 50% probability of an old decision.
© Copyright Policy
Related In: Results  -  Collection

License
Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC4814130&req=5

pone.0152093.g002: A. Average probability of old responses as a function of age and emotional expressions of faces. B. Response times of age decisions. Error bars denote the standard error of the mean. * p < .05, ** p < .01 compared to neutral faces (controls). C. Psychometric curve fits. For each emotional expression, psychometric curves were separately fitted by using the Naka-Rushton response function. A leftward-shift of the psychometric curve of sad faces (blue line) and a rightward-shift of the psychometric curve of happy faces (red line) compared to neutral faces (gray line) were observed. A dotted horizontal line represents the 50% probability of an old decision.
Mentions: First, we performed a 3 (EMOTION: Sad, Neutral, Happy) by 8 (AGE: 30 to 65 years old in 5 years increments) repeated-measures ANOVA on the proportions of old decisions. Means and standard deviations are shown in Table 1. The ANOVA result revealed a significant 2-way interaction effect of EMOTION × AGE, F(14,518) = 20.66, p < .01, ηp2 = .36. We also observed main effects of EMOTION, F(2,74) = 94.73, p < .01, ηp2 = .72, and AGE, F(7,259) = 289.76, p < .01, ηp2 = .89. To clarify the interaction effect through simple effect analyses, we performed one-way repeated-measures ANOVAs for each age levels. Then, we conducted subsequent post-hoc comparisons separately for sad and happy affects with neutral affect (control). For all age levels, one-way ANOVA results were significant, all p < .05. However, in the post-hoc comparisons (see Fig 2A), sad faces were more frequently judged as old compared to neutral faces in a range of the lowest age of 30 through 55 years old, 30: F(1,74) = 17.11, p < .01, ηp2 = .32; 35: F(1,74) = 43.31, p < .01, ηp2 = .54; 40: F(1,74) = 65.10, p < .01, ηp2 = .64; 45: F(1,74) = 46.85, p < .01, ηp2 = .56; 50: F(1,74) = 9.42, p < .01, ηp2 = .20; 55: F(1,74) = 5.69, p < .05, ηp2 = .13. As predicted, positive affect revealed the opposite pattern of results. Happy faces were less frequently judged as old compared to neutral from 40 to the highest age of 65 years old, 40: F(1,74) = 16.81, p < .01, ηp2 = .64; 45: F(1,74) = 64.39, p < .01, ηp2 = .56; 50: F(1,74) = 109.22, p < .01, ηp2 = .75; 55: F(1,74) = 64.50, p < .01, ηp2 = .65; 60: F(1,74) = 43.91, p < .01, ηp2 = .54; 65: F(1,74) = 38.30, p < .01, ηp2 = .51. These findings explain the interaction effect we observed—the effect of task-irrelevant negative and positive emotional expressions of facial stimuli interacted with the morphed age levels.

Bottom Line: Perceived age is a psychosocial factor that can influence both with whom and how we choose to interact socially.College-aged participants were asked to sort the emotional and neutral expressions of male facial stimuli that had been morphed across eight age levels into categories of either "young" or "old." Our results indicated that faces at the lower age levels were more likely to be categorized as old when they showed a sad facial expression compared to neutral expressions.Our findings suggest that emotion interacts with age perception such that happy expression increases the threshold for an old decision, while sad expression decreases the threshold for an old decision in a young adult sample.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Department of Psychology, University of Missouri-Kansas City, Kansas City, Missouri, United States of America.

ABSTRACT
Perceived age is a psychosocial factor that can influence both with whom and how we choose to interact socially. Though intuition tells us that a smile makes us look younger, surprisingly little empirical evidence exists to explain how age-irrelevant emotional expressions bias the subjective decision threshold for age. We examined the role that emotional expression plays in the process of judging one's age from a face. College-aged participants were asked to sort the emotional and neutral expressions of male facial stimuli that had been morphed across eight age levels into categories of either "young" or "old." Our results indicated that faces at the lower age levels were more likely to be categorized as old when they showed a sad facial expression compared to neutral expressions. Mirroring that, happy faces were more often judged as young at higher age levels than neutral faces. Our findings suggest that emotion interacts with age perception such that happy expression increases the threshold for an old decision, while sad expression decreases the threshold for an old decision in a young adult sample.

Show MeSH
Related in: MedlinePlus