Data_Sheet_1_Long-Term Influence of Incidental Emotions on the Emotional Judgment of Neutral Faces.docx
Background: Evidence indicates that the processing of facial stimuli may be influenced by incidental factors, and these influences are particularly powerful when facial expressions are ambiguous, such as neutral faces. However, limited research investigated whether emotional contextual information presented in a preceding and unrelated experiment could be pervasively carried over to another experiment to modulate neutral face processing.
Objective: The present study aims to investigate whether an emotional text presented in a first experiment could generate negative emotion toward neutral faces in a second experiment unrelated to the previous experiment.
Methods: Ninety-nine students (all women) were randomly assigned to read and evaluate a negative text (negative context) or a neutral text (neutral text) in the first experiment. In the subsequent second experiment, the participants performed the following two tasks: (1) an attentional task in which neutral faces were presented as distractors and (2) a task involving the emotional judgment of neutral faces.
Results: The results show that compared to the neutral context, in the negative context, the participants rated more faces as negative. No significant result was found in the attentional task.
Conclusion: Our study demonstrates that incidental emotional information available in a previous experiment can increase participants’ propensity to interpret neutral faces as more negative when emotional information is directly evaluated. Therefore, the present study adds important evidence to the literature suggesting that our behavior and actions are modulated by previous information in an incidental or low perceived way similar to what occurs in everyday life, thereby modulating our judgments and emotions.
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