SATO Wataru Laboratory

Neuroticism delays detection of facial expressions

(Sawada, Sato, Uono, Kochiyama, Kubota, Yoshimura, & Toichi: PLoS One)

The rapid detection of emotional signals from facial expressions is fundamental for human social interaction.
The personality factor of neuroticism modulates the processing of various types of emotional facial expressions; however, its effect on the detection of emotional facial expressions remains unclear.

In this study, participants with high- and low-neuroticism scores performed a visual search task to detect normal expressions of anger and happiness, and their anti-expressions within a crowd of neutral expressions.
Anti-expressions contained an amount of visual changes equivalent to those found in normal expressions compared to neutral expressions, but they were usually recognized as neutral expressions.
Subjective emotional ratings in response to each facial expression stimulus were also obtained.

Participants with high-neuroticism showed an overall delay in the detection of target facial expressions compared to participants with low-neuroticism.
Additionally, the high-neuroticism group showed higher levels of arousal to facial expressions compared to the low-neuroticism group.

These data suggest that neuroticism modulates the detection of emotional facial expressions in healthy participants; high levels of neuroticism delay overall detection of facial expressions and enhance emotional arousal in response to facial expressions.

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