The expectancy bias

Expectancy-violating faces evoke earlier pupillary dilation than neutral or negative faces

Travis Proulx, W.W.A. Sleegers, Shona Tritt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

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Abstract

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 determining 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.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)69-79
JournalJournal of Experimental Social Psychology
Volume70
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2017

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Dilatation
stimulus
trend
stimulus processing
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experiment
evidence

Keywords

  • expectancy-violation
  • threat
  • inconsistency
  • negativity bias
  • pupillary dilation

Cite this

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title = "The expectancy bias: Expectancy-violating faces evoke earlier pupillary dilation than neutral or negative faces",
abstract = "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 determining 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.",
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The expectancy bias : Expectancy-violating faces evoke earlier pupillary dilation than neutral or negative faces. / Proulx, Travis; Sleegers, W.W.A.; Tritt, Shona.

In: Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, Vol. 70, 2017, p. 69-79.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

TY - JOUR

T1 - The expectancy bias

T2 - Expectancy-violating faces evoke earlier pupillary dilation than neutral or negative faces

AU - Proulx, Travis

AU - Sleegers, W.W.A.

AU - Tritt, Shona

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N2 - 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 determining 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.

AB - 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 determining 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.

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KW - threat

KW - inconsistency

KW - negativity bias

KW - pupillary dilation

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