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Academic Report: Conscious and Unconscious Integration of Emotional Eye Gaze and Affective Context
Update time: 2014/11/14
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Speaker: XU Qian

(PhD Candidate from Professor JIANG Yis research team)

Time13:30-14:30 (Tue), November 18, 2014

Venue: Meeting Room Level 5, South Building

Host: CHEN Wenfeng (Associate Professor)

Social cues, such as facial expression and the direction of eye gaze, are usually perceived within natural context. However, the perceptual integration of these social cues and their context remains largely unexplored. Here we looked into the integration process using emotional gaze cues along with task-irrelevant affective pictures. Participants viewed happy or fearful faces whose eyes could gaze at an affective picture or not (gaze congruency), and the valence of the affective picture was either congruent or incongruent with the facial expression (emotion congruency). Results showed a significant interaction of gaze congruency and emotion congruency for fearful faces but not for happy faces, regardless of whether the stimuli were visible or rendered invisible through the continuous flash suppression paradigm. Interestingly, the integration process showed dissociable patterns with respect to the participant’s trait anxiety and the stimulus visibility: compared with low trait anxiety, high trait anxiety boosted the integration of invisible fearful information though reduced the effect in the visible condition. To sum up, fearful gaze cues can trigger affective social information integration independent of conscious awareness, and the effect is modulated by one’s trait anxiety level.

Key words: eye gaze; facial expression; affective information integration; unconscious; trait anxiety    

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