Computational protocol: Evidence of Rapid Modulation by Social Information of Subjective, Physiological, and Neural Responses to Emotional Expressions

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[…] Participants were seated in front of a computer screen on which the dynamic EFE was displayed in central vision. EFE pictures were presented using the E-Prime software (Psychology Software Tools, http://www.pstnet.com) creating the compelling illusion of a short movie clip displaying a dynamic facial expression from neutral to emotional expressions. The experiment was divided into two phases. In the first experimental phase, participants were exposed to a central fixation cross for a duration varying from 500 to 1,000 ms, followed by a video presenting one EFE (2,680 ms). After each of the 70 videos, participants were instructed to rate the EFE in terms of valence on a continuous pixel scale ranging from 0 (positive) to 100 (negative). Next, participants rated the intensity of the EFE on each of the six basic emotions (anger, disgust, fear, happiness, sad, or surprise) on an identical pixel scale (ranging from 0: not at all, to 100: totally). The second phase was similar to the first phase, except that each of the 70 videos was preceded by a positive or negative label. A specific identity from the database (for every EFE expressed by this individual) was associated with a positive label (e.g., nice nurse) for half of the participants, and a negative label for the other half (e.g., serial rapist). The social valence of each identity was counterbalanced across participants. After seeing the label displayed on the screen for 2,000 ms, participants were exposed to a fixation cross (from 500 to 1,000 ms) before each video depicting a specific EFE of a specific person (for 2,680 ms). Similarly to phase 1, participants had to assess the valence and the intensity of the perceived EFE. Moreover, participants were also instructed to evaluate the emotion they felt after exposure to each video on the same continuous scales as Phase 1 (i.e., valence and intensity). The presentation order of movie clips was randomized for each phase. [...] All the statistical analyses were performed using the STATISTICA 7 software. We conducted an analysis of variance (ANOVA) on valence and intensity of the emotion perceived (Phase 1 and 2) and valence and intensity of the emotion felt by the participant (for Phase 2 only) as the dependent variables, and EFE (Anger; Disgust; Fear; Happiness; Sad; Surprise or Neutral) and social label (Phase 1—no social label; Phase 2—negative social label; Phase 2—positive social label) as within-subjects independent variables. Concerning the emotional intensity of EFE, for simplicity and clarity reasons, we only kept the intensity level related to each emotion (e.g., anger responses after presentation of an angry faces) and not the entire confusion matrices. […]

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