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Gepubliceerd in: Psychological Research 5/2021

Open Access 25-05-2020 | Original Article

Pretty crowds are happy crowds: the influence of attractiveness on mood perception

Auteurs: Alica Mertens, Johanna Hepp, Andreas Voss, Amelie Hische

Gepubliceerd in: Psychological Research | Uitgave 5/2021

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Abstract

Empirical findings predominantly support a happiness superiority effect in visual search and emotion categorization paradigms and reveal that social cues, like sex and race, moderate this advantage. A more recent study showed that the facial attribute attractiveness also influences the accuracy and speed of emotion perception. In the current study, we investigated whether the influence of attractiveness on emotion perception translates into a more general evaluation of moods when more than one emotional target is presented. In two experiments, we used the mood-of-the-crowd (MoC) task to investigate whether attractive crowds are perceived more positively compared to less attractive crowds. The task was to decide whether an array of faces included more angry or more happy faces. Furthermore, we recorded gaze movements to test the assumption that fixations on happy expressions occur more often in attractive crowds. Thirty-four participants took part in experiment 1 as well as in experiment 2. In both experiments, crowds presenting attractive faces were judged as being happy more frequently whereas the reverse pattern was found for unattractive crowds of faces. Moreover, participants were faster and more accurate when evaluating attractive crowds containing more happy faces as well as when judging unattractive crowds composed of more angry expressions. Additionally, in experiment 1, there were more fixations on happy compared to angry expressions in attractive crowds. Overall, the present findings support the assumption that attractiveness moderates emotion perception.

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Voetnoten
1
When conducting the power analysis for our studies we used the studies by Lindeberg et al. (2019) as a basis. They predominantly found medium effect sizes for the interaction effect between emotional expression and attractiveness regarding accuracy and categorization time across their four experiments. Although the task is not entirely comparable to the MoC task, we perceived this effect size to be the best anchor for our studies.
 
2
The norming data of the Chicago Face Database includes mean attractiveness ratings of 1087 participants (Ma et al., 2015) for each face picture. Because only the averaged ratings of each picture are available, the selection is based descriptively on these mean attractiveness ratings. Therefore, we report the mean and standard deviation averaged for the selected pictures of the respective types (female attractive, female unattractive, male attractive, male unattractive).
 
3
We chose the composition of the number of happy/angry faces based on the last experiment by Bucher and Voss (2019) which also included four trial types (7, 9, 11, 13 angry expressions in crowds of 20 faces). However, because we wanted to balance target gender in our crowds of faces, we needed to build crowds of even numbers of angry and happy expressions. Therefore, we changed the total number of pictures from 20 to 18 and changed the number of presented angry faces to 6, 8, 10 and 12.
 
4
To ease interpretation of the results, trial types containing more happy faces (6 and 8 angry out of 18 faces) and those who consisted of more angry faces (10 and 12 angry out of 18 faces) were combined. When analyzing the data using the original four categories of trial type, findings were largely identical.
 
5
When conducting the post-hoc analyses to shed light on this interaction between all factors, no meaningful interpretation of this effect could be revealed. Thus, this interaction effect does not contribute to the other findings from our analyses.
 
6
We re-ran all analyses and included the difference scores of the emotional intensity ratings for happy attractive and happy unattractive expressions (happy attractive minus happy unattractive) as well as for angry attractive and angry unattractive expressions (angry attractive minus angry unattractive) to account for this influence on our reported findings. However, including these difference scores did not alter the effects. There was still a significant effect of attractiveness on response tendency, F(1, 30) = 32.25, p < 0.001, η2p = 0.52, 95% CI [0.29, 0.65], a significant interaction between attractiveness and dominant emotion on response time, F(1, 30) = 5.95, p = 0.021, η2p = 17, 95% CI [0.01, 0.35], a significant interaction between attractiveness and dominant emotion on accuracy, F(1, 30) = 32.25, p < 0.001, η2p = 0.52, 95% CI [0.29, 0.65], and a significant interaction between attractiveness and target emotion on number of fixations, F(1, 30) = 4.38, p = 0.045, η2p = 0.13, 95% CI [0.00, 0.31].
 
7
Although the emotion ratings for the neutral expressions do not necessarily match the ratings of the actual emotions, it nevertheless provides a tendency that might influence the intensity of the emotional expressions.
 
8
We used the same power analysis criteria for the second experiment, to allow comparability between the two experiments.
 
9
There were several reasons why we decided to recruit a separate sample to rate the attractive and unattractive emotional face expressions. In the first experiment, ratings were collected after the MoC experiment, so it might be possible that the completion of the experimental task influenced the attractiveness and emotion ratings afterwards. Furthermore, when measuring the ratings prior to the experiment, it might happen that the ratings influence the completion of the experimental task afterwards which is also not ideal. Collecting the ratings in a “pretest” therefore seemed appropriate.
 
10
The findings with regard to participants’ gender need to be interpreted with caution as ratings from only 12 men were available.
 
Literatuur
go back to reference Becker, D. V., Anderson, U. S., Mortensen, C. R., Neufeld, S. L., & Neel, R. (2011). The face in the crowd effect unconfounded: Happy faces, not angry faces, are more efficiently detected in single- and multiple-target visual search tasks. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 140(4), 637–659. https://​doi.​org/​10.​1037/​a0024060.​supp. (Supplemental). CrossRef Becker, D. V., Anderson, U. S., Mortensen, C. R., Neufeld, S. L., & Neel, R. (2011). The face in the crowd effect unconfounded: Happy faces, not angry faces, are more efficiently detected in single- and multiple-target visual search tasks. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 140(4), 637–659. https://​doi.​org/​10.​1037/​a0024060.​supp. (Supplemental). CrossRef
go back to reference Ma, D. S., Correll, J., & Wittenbrink, B. (2015). The Chicago Face Database: a free stimulus set of faces and norming data. Behavior Research Methods, 47(4), 1122–1135. CrossRef Ma, D. S., Correll, J., & Wittenbrink, B. (2015). The Chicago Face Database: a free stimulus set of faces and norming data. Behavior Research Methods, 47(4), 1122–1135. CrossRef
go back to reference Pinkham, A. E., Griffin, M., Baron, R., Sasson, N. J., & Gur, R. C. (2010). The face in the crowd effect: Anger superiority when using real faces and multiple identities. Emotion, 10(1), 141–146. CrossRef Pinkham, A. E., Griffin, M., Baron, R., Sasson, N. J., & Gur, R. C. (2010). The face in the crowd effect: Anger superiority when using real faces and multiple identities. Emotion, 10(1), 141–146. CrossRef
go back to reference Sim, S. Y.-L., Saperia, J., Brown, J. A., & Bernieri, F. J. (2015). Judging attractiveness: biases due to raters’ own attractiveness and intelligence. Cogent Psychology, 2(1). Sim, S. Y.-L., Saperia, J., Brown, J. A., & Bernieri, F. J. (2015). Judging attractiveness: biases due to raters’ own attractiveness and intelligence. Cogent Psychology, 2(1).
Metagegevens
Titel
Pretty crowds are happy crowds: the influence of attractiveness on mood perception
Auteurs
Alica Mertens
Johanna Hepp
Andreas Voss
Amelie Hische
Publicatiedatum
25-05-2020
Uitgeverij
Springer Berlin Heidelberg
Gepubliceerd in
Psychological Research / Uitgave 5/2021
Print ISSN: 0340-0727
Elektronisch ISSN: 1430-2772
DOI
https://doi.org/10.1007/s00426-020-01360-x