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Is our perception of emotions subject to social influences?

Holt, B; (2005) Is our perception of emotions subject to social influences? Doctoral thesis , UCL (University College London). Green open access


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Background: Conformity research stemmed from work looking at the effects of normative and informative social influences. Contemporary theories suggest that a person's social identity is what determines the extent of conformity behaviour expressed. Aim: This study approaches the concept of conformity by investigating its effects in a social setting and to investigate whether our perception of the emotional value of faces is subject to social influences. Methods: The study is designed using a computer task in which subject rate the emotional value of faces. To create the sense of a social presence, four confederates are presented on the screen as playing the task at the same time. Unknown to the subject, all confederates images and ratings are pre programmed and deliver false ratings in three degrees of variance from the true value (10%, 20% and 30%). Subjects play four rounds in which they play in position one to five and one round independent of social presence. Results: A significant reduction in the standard deviation of the subject's rating to the true value was found between the 20% and 30% condition. Social influences were only observed for negative emotion rating but all three contexts (control, social control and social) showed a regression to neutral faces but this was most pronounced in the social conditions. No position related social effects were observed. Discussion: These two results suggest that there is an effect of the social presence of others when we judge the emotional value of faces however the result were not definite enough to state this conclusively but future research will hopefully clarify the results found here.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Title: Is our perception of emotions subject to social influences?
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Thesis digitised by ProQuest.
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1569409
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