Facing threat: Infants' and adults' visual scanning of faces with neutral, happy, sad, angry, and fearful emotional expressions
2011 (English)In: Cognition & Emotion, ISSN 0269-9931, E-ISSN 1464-0600, Vol. 25, no 2, 193-205 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Human faces are among the most important visual stimuli that we encounter at all ages. This importance partly stems from the face as a conveyer of information on the emotional state of other individuals. Previous research has demonstrated specific scanning patterns in response to threat-related compared to non-threat-related emotional expressions. This study investigated how visual scanning patterns toward faces which display different emotional expressions develop during infancy. The visual scanning patterns of 4-month-old and 7-month-old infants and adults when looking at threat-related (i.e., angry and fearful) versus non-threat-related (i.e., happy, sad, and neutral) emotional faces were examined. We found that infants as well as adults displayed an avoidant looking pattern in response to threat-related emotional expressions with reduced dwell times and relatively less fixations to the inner features of the face. In addition, adults showed a pattern of eye contact avoidance when looking at threat-related emotional expressions that was not yet present in infants. Thus, whereas a general avoidant reaction to threat-related facial expressions appears to be present from very early in life, the avoidance of eye contact might be a learned response toward others' anger and fear that emerges later during development.
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2011. Vol. 25, no 2, 193-205 p.
Visual scanning, Infants, Facial expression, Emotional expression, Threat
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-150768DOI: 10.1080/15298861003771189ISI: 000286889600001PubMedID: 21432667OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-150768DiVA: diva2:408716