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Escritos de Psicología (Internet)

On-line version ISSN 1989-3809Print version ISSN 1138-2635


GORDILLO, Fernando et al. Effect of verbal context on the expression of happiness and sadness. Escritos de Psicología [online]. 2016, vol.9, n.1, pp.61-68. ISSN 1989-3809.

The recognition of emotions involves a combination of physical aspects related to movements of the facial muscles. In addition, different approaches have drawn attention to the context in which facial expressions occur when they are being perceived. This study analysed the role of verbal context in the recognition of the facial expressions of happiness and sadness. The study included 50 participants. They were asked to view images of mixed neutral expressions surrounded by five positive, negative, or neutral words (verbal context) that described the life an individual (Phase I). Following this, they were shown happy or sad facial expressions of the same individuals who appeared in the previous phase. The images were displayed for 39 ms such that the participants had to decide as quickly as possible whether the expression was happy or sad (Phase II). The results showed that participants found expressions of sadness harder to recognise than expressions of happiness when the former were preceded by a positive verbal context. In contrast, they found that expressions of sadness were easier to recognise than expressions of happiness when the former were preceded by a negative verbal context. The results are discussed within the constructivist model of emotion.

Keywords : Automatic Processing; Emotion; Verbal context; Constructivist Model; Perception.

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