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The expectancy bias: Expectancy-violating faces evoke earlier pupillary dilation than neutral or negative faces

Proulx, Travis ORCID:, Sleegers, Willem and Tritt, Shona M. 2017. The expectancy bias: Expectancy-violating faces evoke earlier pupillary dilation than neutral or negative faces. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology 70 , pp. 69-79. 10.1016/j.jesp.2016.12.003

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Humans maintain a negativity bias, whereby they perceive threatening stimuli to be more salient than rewarding or neutral stimuli. Across 6 within-subject experimental comparisons, we tested the hypothesis that humans maintain an even stronger expectancy bias, preferentially processing stimuli that violate mental representations of expected associations. To assess this bias, we measured variations in pupillary dilation as a means of determin- ing attentional arousal in response to neutral, negative and expectancy-violating versions of the same social stimuli: human faces. We conducted three baseline manipulation checks that directly compared neutral faces with threatening (angry) and expectancy-violating (upside-down and Thatcherized) faces, and three bias comparisons that directly compared threatening and expectancy-violating faces with one another. Across these experiments, we found evidence for a dominant expectancy bias in pupillary arousal for social stimuli, whereby expectancy-violating faces produced pupillary dilation earlier than neutral and threatening faces, with Thatcherized faces producing the greatest magnitude of dilation.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Psychology
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Uncontrolled Keywords: Expectancy-violation; Threat; Inconsistency; Negativity bias; Pupillary dilation
Additional Information: This is an open access article under the CC-BY-NC-ND license.
Publisher: Elsevier
ISSN: 0022-1031
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 17 January 2017
Date of Acceptance: 8 December 2016
Last Modified: 02 Nov 2022 10:07

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