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Oxytocin and emotion recognition: Investigating the possible roles of facial synchrony and eye gaze

Daughters, Katie and Manstead, Antony SR and van der Schalk, Job (2021) 'Oxytocin and emotion recognition: Investigating the possible roles of facial synchrony and eye gaze.' Current Research in Ecological and Social Psychology, 2. p. 100019. ISSN 2666-6227

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Abstract

The neuropeptide oxytocin (OT) has been shown to influence social cognition, including better recognition of emotion in faces. One potential way in which OT improves emotion recognition is by increasing the correspondence between a perceiver's own facial activity and observed facial expressions. Here we investigate whether increased facial synchrony while viewing facial expressions increases emotion recognition, and whether this effect is moderated by OT. Change in visual attention as captured by eye-gaze is another way in which OT might improve emotion recognition. We also examine visual attention to observed expressions, and whether this is influenced by OT. One hundred and four male undergraduates took part in a double-blind, randomized, between-subjects study in which they self-administered either a placebo (PL) or 24 IU of OT before viewing dynamic facial expressions of emotion, during which their facial activity and eye-gaze were measured, before answering questions on emotion recognition and affiliation. It was hypothesized that participants in the OT condition would exhibit more facial synchrony than would those in the PL condition, and that OT would influence time spent looking at the eye region of target faces. Consistent with previous research, participants in the OT condition were marginally but significantly better at emotion recognition than those in the PL condition. However, participants in the OT condition displayed less facial synchrony for fearful expressions, and there was no effect of OT on measures of eye-gaze. These results suggest that OT does not improve emotion recognition through increased facial synchrony or changing visual attention.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Oxytocin; Eye-gaze; Emotion; Dynamic stimuli; Synchrony
Divisions: Faculty of Science and Health
Faculty of Science and Health > Psychology, Department of
SWORD Depositor: Elements
Depositing User: Elements
Date Deposited: 11 Nov 2021 13:29
Last Modified: 06 Jan 2022 14:32
URI: http://repository.essex.ac.uk/id/eprint/31376

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