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13-03-2019 | Original Article

Deaf signers outperform hearing non-signers in recognizing happy facial expressions

Auteurs: Christian Dobel, Bettina Nestler-Collatz, Orlando Guntinas-Lichius, Stefan R. Schweinberger, Romi Zäske

Gepubliceerd in: Psychological Research | Uitgave 6/2020

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Abstract

The use of signs as a major means for communication affects other functions such as spatial processing. Intriguingly, this is true even for functions which are less obviously linked to language processing. Speakers using signs outperform non-signers in face recognition tasks, potentially as a result of a lifelong focus on the mouth region for speechreading. On this background, we hypothesized that the processing of emotional faces is altered in persons using mostly signs for communication (henceforth named deaf signers). While for the recognition of happiness the mouth region is more crucial, the eye region matters more for recognizing anger. Using morphed faces, we created facial composites in which either the upper or lower half of an emotional face was kept neutral while the other half varied in intensity of the expressed emotion, being either happy or angry. As expected, deaf signers were more accurate at recognizing happy faces than non-signers. The reverse effect was found for angry faces. These differences between groups were most pronounced for facial expressions of low intensities. We conclude that the lifelong focus on the mouth region in deaf signers leads to more sensitive processing of happy faces, especially when expressions are relatively subtle.
Voetnoten
1
There was also a smaller but significant quadratic trend (F = 115.144; p < 0.001) and cubic trend (F = 4.398; p = 0.043).
 
2
There was also a smaller but significant quadratic trend (F = 13.506; p = 0.001).
 
3
We performed two additional ANOVAs on accuracies and latencies, comparing two sub-groups of deaf signers, i.e. those using DGS and SSS (N = 14) with those using SSS (N = 6) only. For accuracies, the only significant effect involving the factor GROUP was an interaction of STIMULUS TYPE × INTENSITY × GROUP (F(6, 108) = 2.579, p = 0.026, ηp2 = 0.125). Running the ANOVA for each group separately, revealed a significant interaction of STIMULUS TYPE × INTENSITY in both groups (F(6, 78) = 3.617, p = 0.007, ηp2 = 0.218 for the signers using DGS and SSS; F(6, 30) = 10.154, p < 0.001, ηp2 = .670 for the signers using SSS only. With increasing intensity both groups displayed the effect of TYPE with the highest accuracy for O stimuli followed by MEmo and Eemo. However, in the group using DGS and SSS the effect of STIMULUS TYPE appeared already with the lowest morphing intensity (F(2,26) = 9.560, p = 0.001, ηp2  = 0.424), while this was not the case in participants using SSS only (F(2,10) = 1.258, p = 0.326, ηp2  = 0.201)..For latencies, there were no effects involving GROUP.
 
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Metagegevens
Titel
Deaf signers outperform hearing non-signers in recognizing happy facial expressions
Auteurs
Christian Dobel
Bettina Nestler-Collatz
Orlando Guntinas-Lichius
Stefan R. Schweinberger
Romi Zäske
Publicatiedatum
13-03-2019
Uitgeverij
Springer Berlin Heidelberg
Gepubliceerd in
Psychological Research / Uitgave 6/2020
Print ISSN: 0340-0727
Elektronisch ISSN: 1430-2772
DOI
https://doi.org/10.1007/s00426-019-01160-y

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