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What a Smile Means: Contextual Beliefs and Facial Emotion Expressions in a Non-verbal Zero-Sum Game.

Pádua Júnior FP, Prado PH, Roeder SS, Andrade EB - Front Psychol (2016)

Bottom Line: Among female pairs, senders won the game more frequently, replicating the pattern of results from study 1.When prompted to think in an incongruent manner, these observers significantly improve their performance in the game.These findings emphasize the role that contextual factors play in emotion perception-observers' beliefs do indeed affect their judgments of facial emotion expressions.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Programa de Pós-Graduação em Administração, Universidade Federal do Paraná Curitiba, Brazil.

ABSTRACT
Research into the authenticity of facial emotion expressions often focuses on the physical properties of the face while paying little attention to the role of beliefs in emotion perception. Further, the literature most often investigates how people express a pre-determined emotion rather than what facial emotion expressions people strategically choose to express. To fill these gaps, this paper proposes a non-verbal zero-sum game - the Face X Game - to assess the role of contextual beliefs and strategic displays of facial emotion expression in interpersonal interactions. This new research paradigm was used in a series of three studies, where two participants are asked to play the role of the sender (individual expressing emotional information on his/her face) or the observer (individual interpreting the meaning of that expression). Study 1 examines the outcome of the game with reference to the sex of the pair, where senders won more frequently when the pair was comprised of at least one female. Study 2 examines the strategic display of facial emotion expressions. The outcome of the game was again contingent upon the sex of the pair. Among female pairs, senders won the game more frequently, replicating the pattern of results from study 1. We also demonstrate that senders who strategically express an emotion incongruent with the valence of the event (e.g., smile after seeing a negative event) are able to mislead observers, who tend to hold a congruent belief about the meaning of the emotion expression. If sending an incongruent signal helps to explain why female senders win more frequently, it logically follows that female observers were more prone to hold a congruent, and therefore inaccurate, belief. This prospect implies that while female senders are willing and/or capable of displaying fake smiles, paired-female observers are not taking this into account. Study 3 investigates the role of contextual factors by manipulating female observers' beliefs. When prompted to think in an incongruent manner, these observers significantly improve their performance in the game. These findings emphasize the role that contextual factors play in emotion perception-observers' beliefs do indeed affect their judgments of facial emotion expressions.

No MeSH data available.


Related in: MedlinePlus

Mediation analysis – study 2. Statistics – coefficient (SE), p-value. Coding – Sex: 1 = female, 0 = male; Facial Emotion Expression:-6 = maximum incongruency, +6 = maximum congruency; Winner: 1 = player; 0 = observer. Normal theory test is not allowed for models with dichotomous outcomes (Preacher and Hayes, 2008). 1Total effect (c path); 2Direct effect (c’ path).
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Figure 2: Mediation analysis – study 2. Statistics – coefficient (SE), p-value. Coding – Sex: 1 = female, 0 = male; Facial Emotion Expression:-6 = maximum incongruency, +6 = maximum congruency; Winner: 1 = player; 0 = observer. Normal theory test is not allowed for models with dichotomous outcomes (Preacher and Hayes, 2008). 1Total effect (c path); 2Direct effect (c’ path).

Mentions: Results from a one-way analysis of variance were consistent with previous analyses, indicating that female players showed higher levels of incongruency (M = -0.81; SD = 1.91) relative to male players [M = 0.29; SD = 1.99; F(1,76) = 6.16, p = 0.01], who, on average, displayed only slightly congruent expressions during the game. A one-sample t-test was conducted to compare the incongruency scores with zero in each group. There was a significant difference from zero in scores for female pairs [M = -0.81, SD = 1.91; t(42) = -2.80, p = 0.01, two-tailed]. The magnitude of the differences in the means (mean difference = -0.814, 95% CI: -1.40 to -0.23) was very large (η2 = 0.16). For male pairs, there was no significant difference from zero in incongruency scores [M = 0.29, SD = 1.99; t(34) = 0.85, p = 0.29, two-tailed]. Of importance, a mediation analysis was also conducted to assess whether this difference in congruency could at least in part explain the impact of sex on the outcome of the game. Following Preacher and Hayes (2008), an INDIRECT test was conducted with sex as the IV (1 = female; 0 = male), the (in)congruency index of emotion expression as the mediator (-6 = maximum incongruency; +6 = maximum congruency), and the outcome of the game as the DV (winner: 1 = player; 0 = observer). The relationship between sex of the pair and winner of the game was mediated by the (in)congruency index of the emotion expression (i.e., players’ facial emotion expressions). As Figure 2 illustrates, results indicated that sex was a significant predictor of the players’ facial emotion expressions, b = -1.10, SE = 0.44, p = 0.01, and that the players’ facial emotion expressions were a significant predictor of who won the game, b = -0.26, SE = 0.14, p = 0.05. In this study, the sex of the pair was no longer a significant predictor of winner of the game after controlling for the mediator, b = 0.77, SE = 0.50, p = 0.12, consistent with full mediation. The indirect effect was tested using a bootstrap estimation approach with 1000 samples. Results from this test indicated the indirect coefficient was significant, b = 0.314, SE = 0.223, 95% CI = 0.0274, 0.9417. In sum, the direct impact of sex on the outcome of the game was mediated by the players’ facial emotion expression during the game. Female players were more likely to express a signal that was incongruent with the card, which in turn increased their chance of winning the game.


What a Smile Means: Contextual Beliefs and Facial Emotion Expressions in a Non-verbal Zero-Sum Game.

Pádua Júnior FP, Prado PH, Roeder SS, Andrade EB - Front Psychol (2016)

Mediation analysis – study 2. Statistics – coefficient (SE), p-value. Coding – Sex: 1 = female, 0 = male; Facial Emotion Expression:-6 = maximum incongruency, +6 = maximum congruency; Winner: 1 = player; 0 = observer. Normal theory test is not allowed for models with dichotomous outcomes (Preacher and Hayes, 2008). 1Total effect (c path); 2Direct effect (c’ path).
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Related In: Results  -  Collection

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getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC4836202&req=5

Figure 2: Mediation analysis – study 2. Statistics – coefficient (SE), p-value. Coding – Sex: 1 = female, 0 = male; Facial Emotion Expression:-6 = maximum incongruency, +6 = maximum congruency; Winner: 1 = player; 0 = observer. Normal theory test is not allowed for models with dichotomous outcomes (Preacher and Hayes, 2008). 1Total effect (c path); 2Direct effect (c’ path).
Mentions: Results from a one-way analysis of variance were consistent with previous analyses, indicating that female players showed higher levels of incongruency (M = -0.81; SD = 1.91) relative to male players [M = 0.29; SD = 1.99; F(1,76) = 6.16, p = 0.01], who, on average, displayed only slightly congruent expressions during the game. A one-sample t-test was conducted to compare the incongruency scores with zero in each group. There was a significant difference from zero in scores for female pairs [M = -0.81, SD = 1.91; t(42) = -2.80, p = 0.01, two-tailed]. The magnitude of the differences in the means (mean difference = -0.814, 95% CI: -1.40 to -0.23) was very large (η2 = 0.16). For male pairs, there was no significant difference from zero in incongruency scores [M = 0.29, SD = 1.99; t(34) = 0.85, p = 0.29, two-tailed]. Of importance, a mediation analysis was also conducted to assess whether this difference in congruency could at least in part explain the impact of sex on the outcome of the game. Following Preacher and Hayes (2008), an INDIRECT test was conducted with sex as the IV (1 = female; 0 = male), the (in)congruency index of emotion expression as the mediator (-6 = maximum incongruency; +6 = maximum congruency), and the outcome of the game as the DV (winner: 1 = player; 0 = observer). The relationship between sex of the pair and winner of the game was mediated by the (in)congruency index of the emotion expression (i.e., players’ facial emotion expressions). As Figure 2 illustrates, results indicated that sex was a significant predictor of the players’ facial emotion expressions, b = -1.10, SE = 0.44, p = 0.01, and that the players’ facial emotion expressions were a significant predictor of who won the game, b = -0.26, SE = 0.14, p = 0.05. In this study, the sex of the pair was no longer a significant predictor of winner of the game after controlling for the mediator, b = 0.77, SE = 0.50, p = 0.12, consistent with full mediation. The indirect effect was tested using a bootstrap estimation approach with 1000 samples. Results from this test indicated the indirect coefficient was significant, b = 0.314, SE = 0.223, 95% CI = 0.0274, 0.9417. In sum, the direct impact of sex on the outcome of the game was mediated by the players’ facial emotion expression during the game. Female players were more likely to express a signal that was incongruent with the card, which in turn increased their chance of winning the game.

Bottom Line: Among female pairs, senders won the game more frequently, replicating the pattern of results from study 1.When prompted to think in an incongruent manner, these observers significantly improve their performance in the game.These findings emphasize the role that contextual factors play in emotion perception-observers' beliefs do indeed affect their judgments of facial emotion expressions.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Programa de Pós-Graduação em Administração, Universidade Federal do Paraná Curitiba, Brazil.

ABSTRACT
Research into the authenticity of facial emotion expressions often focuses on the physical properties of the face while paying little attention to the role of beliefs in emotion perception. Further, the literature most often investigates how people express a pre-determined emotion rather than what facial emotion expressions people strategically choose to express. To fill these gaps, this paper proposes a non-verbal zero-sum game - the Face X Game - to assess the role of contextual beliefs and strategic displays of facial emotion expression in interpersonal interactions. This new research paradigm was used in a series of three studies, where two participants are asked to play the role of the sender (individual expressing emotional information on his/her face) or the observer (individual interpreting the meaning of that expression). Study 1 examines the outcome of the game with reference to the sex of the pair, where senders won more frequently when the pair was comprised of at least one female. Study 2 examines the strategic display of facial emotion expressions. The outcome of the game was again contingent upon the sex of the pair. Among female pairs, senders won the game more frequently, replicating the pattern of results from study 1. We also demonstrate that senders who strategically express an emotion incongruent with the valence of the event (e.g., smile after seeing a negative event) are able to mislead observers, who tend to hold a congruent belief about the meaning of the emotion expression. If sending an incongruent signal helps to explain why female senders win more frequently, it logically follows that female observers were more prone to hold a congruent, and therefore inaccurate, belief. This prospect implies that while female senders are willing and/or capable of displaying fake smiles, paired-female observers are not taking this into account. Study 3 investigates the role of contextual factors by manipulating female observers' beliefs. When prompted to think in an incongruent manner, these observers significantly improve their performance in the game. These findings emphasize the role that contextual factors play in emotion perception-observers' beliefs do indeed affect their judgments of facial emotion expressions.

No MeSH data available.


Related in: MedlinePlus