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Dynamic emotional expressions do not modulate responses to gestures

Farmer, H; Mahmood, R; Gregory, SEA; Tishina, P; Hamilton, AFDC; (2021) Dynamic emotional expressions do not modulate responses to gestures. Acta Psychologica , 212 , Article 103226. 10.1016/j.actpsy.2020.103226. Green open access

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Abstract

The tendency to imitate the actions of others appears to be a fundamental aspect of human social interaction. Emotional expressions are a particularly salient form of social stimuli (Vuilleumier & Schwartz, 2001) but their relationship to imitative behaviour is currently unclear. In this paper we report the results of five studies which investigated the effect of a target’s dynamic emotional stimuli on participants’ tendency to respond compatibly to the target’s actions. Experiment one examined the effect of dynamic emotional expressions on the automatic imitation of opening and closing hand movements. Experiment two used the same basic paradigm but added gaze direction as an additional factor. Experiment three investigated the effect of dynamic emotional expressions on compatibility responses to handshakes. Experiment four investigated whether dynamic emotional expressions modulated response to valenced social gestures. Finally, experiment five compared the effects of dynamic and static emotional expressions on participants’ automatic imitation of finger lifting. Across all five studies we reliably elicited a compatibility effect however, none of the studies found a significant modulating effect of emotional expression. This null effect was also supported by a random effects meta-analysis and a series of Bayesian t-tests. Nevertheless, these results must be caveated by the fact that our studies had limited power to detect effect sizes below d = 0.4. We conclude by situating our findings within the literature, suggesting that the effect of emotional expressions on automatic imitation is, at best, minimal.

Type: Article
Title: Dynamic emotional expressions do not modulate responses to gestures
Location: Netherlands
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1016/j.actpsy.2020.103226
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.actpsy.2020.103226
Language: English
Additional information: This is an open access article under the CC BY license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).
Keywords: Meaningful gestures, Automatic imitation, Emotion, Stimulus response compatibility, Facial expressions
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences > Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10118680
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