Knowing How You Are Feeling Depends on What’s on My Mind: Cognitive Load and Expression categorisation

Ahmed, Lubna (2017) Knowing How You Are Feeling Depends on What’s on My Mind: Cognitive Load and Expression categorisation. Emotion. ISSN 1931-1516

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The ability to correctly interpret facial expressions is key to effective social interactions. We are well rehearsed and generally very efficient at correctly categorising expressions. However does our ability to do so depend on how cognitively loaded we are at the time? Using repeated measures designs we assessed the sensitivity of facial expression categorisation to cognitive resources availability by measuring people’s expression categorisation performance during concurrent low and high cognitive load situations. In Experiment1 participants categorised the six basic upright facial expressions in a 6-AFC response paradigm whilst maintaining low or high loading information in working memory (N= 40; 60 observations per load condition). In Experiment 2 they did so for both upright and inverted faces (N= 46; 60 observations per load and inversion condition). In both experiments expression categorisation for upright faces was worse during high versus low load. Categorisation rates actually improved with increased load for the inverted faces. The opposing effects of cognitive load on upright and inverted expressions are explained in terms of a cognitive load related dispersion in the attentional window. Overall the findings support that expression categorisation is sensitive to cognitive resources availability and moreover suggest that, in this paradigm, it is the perceptual processing stage of expression categorisation that is affected by cognitive load.

Item Type: Journal Article
Additional Information: This article may not exactly replicate the final version published in the APA journal. It is not the copy of record.
Uncontrolled Keywords: Facial expression categorisation, working memory load, cognitive load, attentional window, affect processing.
Subjects: 100 Philosophy & psychology > 150 Psychology
100 Philosophy & psychology > 152 Perception, movement, emotions & drives
School/Department: School of Management and Social Sciences
Depositing User: Kevin Sanders
Date Deposited: 15 Mar 2017 15:19
Last Modified: 26 May 2017 15:49


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