Author(s): LoBue V
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Abstract Threatening facial expressions can signal the approach of someone or something potentially dangerous. Past research has established that adults have an attentional bias for angry faces, visually detecting their presence more quickly than happy or neutral faces. Two new findings are reported here. First, evidence is presented that young children share this attentional bias. In five experiments, young children and adults were asked to find a picture of a target face among an array of eight distracter faces. Both age groups detected threat-relevant faces--angry and frightened--more rapidly than non-threat-relevant faces (happy and sad). Second, evidence is presented that both adults and children have an attentional bias for negative stimuli overall. All negative faces were detected more quickly than positive ones in both age groups. As the first evidence that young children exhibit the same superior detection of threatening facial expressions as adults, this research provides important support for the existence of an evolved attentional bias for threatening stimuli.
This article was published in Dev Sci
and referenced in Journal of Antivirals & Antiretrovirals