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    Inducing a concurrent motor load reduces perceptual sensitivity for facial expressions

    Ipser, A. and Cook, Richard (2016) Inducing a concurrent motor load reduces perceptual sensitivity for facial expressions. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance 42 (5), pp. 706-718. ISSN 0096-1523.

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    Abstract

    Motor theories of expression perception posit that observers simulate facial expressions within their own motor system, aiding perception and interpretation. Consistent with this view, reports have suggested that blocking facial mimicry induces expression labeling errors and alters patterns of ratings. Crucially, however, it is unclear whether changes in labeling and rating behavior reflect genuine perceptual phenomena (e.g., greater internal noise associated with expression perception or interpretation) or are products of response bias. In an effort to advance this literature, the present study introduces a new psychophysical paradigm for investigating motor contributions to expression perception that overcomes some of the limitations inherent in simple labeling and rating tasks. Observers were asked to judge whether smiles drawn from a morph continuum were sincere or insincere, in the presence or absence of a motor load induced by the concurrent production of vowel sounds. Having confirmed that smile sincerity judgments depend on cues from both eye and mouth regions (Experiment 1), we demonstrated that vowel production reduces the precision with which smiles are categorized (Experiment 2). In Experiment 3, we replicated this effect when observers were required to produce vowels, but not when they passively listened to the same vowel sounds. In Experiments 4 and 5, we found that gender categorizations, equated for difficulty, were unaffected by vowel production, irrespective of the presence of a smiling expression. These findings greatly advance our understanding of motor contributions to expression perception and represent a timely contribution in light of recent high-profile challenges to the existing evidence base.

    Metadata

    Item Type: Article
    Additional Information: ©American Psychological Association 201x. This paper is not the copy of record and may not exactly replicate the authoritative document published in the APA journal. Please do not copy or cite without author's permission. The final article is available, upon publication, at the DOI cited above.
    School: Birkbeck Schools and Departments > School of Science > Psychological Sciences
    Depositing User: Dr Richard Cook
    Date Deposited: 22 Feb 2018 07:38
    Last Modified: 27 Jul 2019 00:27
    URI: http://eprints.bbk.ac.uk/id/eprint/21295

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