Authors Name: 
Intan Wardhani
University of Queensland Australia
Highly commended

Find me in the crowd: The effects of inversion and emotion on the search efficiency of happy and angry expressions


Previous studies had shown divergent results regarding visual search for emotional facial expressions.  Evidence suggested either an efficient and accurate detection for happy faces (i.e., the happy face advantage) or an efficient and accurate detection for angry faces (i.e., the angry face advantage).  The present study aimed to investigate search efficiency in detecting happy and angry expressions as indicated by response times across the set sizes (i.e., different numbers of crowds.  One male and 25 female (Mage = 20.15 years) first-year psychology students at a university completed detection tasks with photographic faces as stimuli.  Results revealed that it was evident that exuberantly happy faces were detected more efficiently than open-mouth happy and open-mouth angry faces.  However, the effect of exuberant expressions slightly diminished when faces were inverted (i.e., upside-down).  This signified that low-level perceptual features (e.g., the visibility of teeth, upturned mouth, lifted eyebrows) might not be the only variable that accounted for the efficient search.  Future studies were encouraged to investigate other factors such as the use of fixed and variable target searches and the use of different types of stimuli.