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Emotion recognition: The role of featural and configural face information
The Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology
Several studies investigated the role of featural and configural information when processing facial identity. A lot less is known about their contribution to emotion recognition. In this study, we addressed this issue by inducing either a featural or a configural processing strategy (Experiment 1) and by investigating the attentional strategies in response to emotional expressions (Experiment 2). In Experiment 1, participants identified emotional expressions in faces that were presented in three different versions (intact, blurred, and scrambled) and in two orientations (upright and inverted). Blurred faces contain mainly configural information, and scrambled faces contain mainly featural information. Inversion is known to selectively hinder configural processing. Analyses of the discriminability measure (Aâeuro²) and response times (RTs) revealed that configural processing plays a more prominent role in expression recognition than featural processing, but their relative contribution varies depending on the emotion. In Experiment 2, we qualified these differences between emotions by investigating the relative importance of specific features by means of eye movements. Participants had to match intact expressions with the emotional cues that preceded the stimulus. The analysis of eye movements confirmed that the recognition of different emotions rely on different types of information. While the mouth is important for the detection of happiness and fear, the eyes are more relevant for anger, fear, and sadness.
Emotion recognition, Facial expression, Featural processing, Configural processing, Eye movements
Web of science
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