How Do Static and Dynamic Emotional Faces Prime Incremental Semantic Interpretation?: Comparing Older and Younger Adults

Katja MünsterBielefeld University
Maria Nella CarminatiBielefeld University
Pia KnoeferleBielefeld University

Abstract

Using eye-tracking, two studies investigated whether a dynamic vs. static emotional facial expression can influence how a listener interprets an emotionally-valenced utterance in relation to a visual context. We assessed whether such facial priming changes with the comprehender’s age. Participants inspected a static or a dynamic happy or sad facial expression. Subsequently, participants saw two pictures of opposite valence and heard an either positively or negatively valenced sentence describe one of these pictures. The emotional face influenced visual attention on the pictures and during the processing of the sentence. These influences were modulated by age. Older adults were more strongly influenced by the positive prime face, younger adults by the negative facial expression. These results suggest that the negativity and the positivity bias observed in visual attention in young and older adults respectively extends to face-sentence priming. However, static and dynamic emotional faces had similar priming effects on sentence processing.

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