Attentional biases to expressive faces and the role of gender-emotion stereotypes.

Open Access
Nelson, Anthony J
Graduate Program:
Doctor of Philosophy
Document Type:
Date of Defense:
June 10, 2015
Committee Members:
  • Reginald Adams Jr., Dissertation Advisor
  • Theresa K Vescio, Committee Member
  • Nancy Anne Coulter Dennis, Committee Member
  • Koraly Elisa Perez Edgar, Committee Member
  • David Andrew Puts, Committee Member
  • Facial expression
  • visual attention
  • stereotype
  • gender and emotion
  • face memory
The human face is a source of numerous social and emotional cues. Two of these cues, gender and facial expression, were examined in the current dissertation. Study 1 demonstrated that participants hold beliefs about how often women and men both 1) experience and 2) express facial expressions. Studies 2 (anger and sad) and 3 (anger and fear) demonstrated that attentional biases to female and male expressive faces differ across visual field as well as timing of the stimuli. Early attention (i.e., 300ms) is more biased toward gender-emotion stereotype-congruent faces, particularly for sadness (Study 2) and fear (Study 3) when presented in the left visual field. Later attention (i.e., 1000ms) is more biased toward stereotype-incongruent cues (i.e., male sadness/fear, female anger) when presented to the right visual field. Study 4 demonstrates that stereotype-congruent faces tend to be encoded less deeply than stereotype-incongruent faces, and this is moderated by level of stereotype endorsement. Partial evidence was found for endorsement of gender stereotypes about expressive behavior both moderating and mediating these biases, underscoring the role that perceptual clarity plays in the perception of compound social cues.