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Working Memory Capacity Is Associated With Optimal Adaptation of Response Bias to Perceptual Sensitivity in Emotion Perception

Lynn, Spencer K. ; Ibagon, Camila ; Bui, Eric ; Palitz, Sophie A. ; Simon, Naomi M. ; Barrett, Lisa Feldman

Emotion, 2016, Vol.16(2), pp.155-163 [Peer Reviewed Journal]

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  • Title:
    Working Memory Capacity Is Associated With Optimal Adaptation of Response Bias to Perceptual Sensitivity in Emotion Perception
  • Author: Lynn, Spencer K. ; Ibagon, Camila ; Bui, Eric ; Palitz, Sophie A. ; Simon, Naomi M. ; Barrett, Lisa Feldman
  • Description: Emotion perception, inferring the emotional state of another person, is a frequent judgment made under perceptual uncertainty (e.g., a scowling facial expression can indicate anger or concentration) and behavioral risk (e.g., incorrect judgment can be costly to the perceiver). Working memory capacity (WMC), the ability to maintain controlled processing in the face of competing demands, is an important component of many decisions. We investigated the association of WMC and anger perception in a task in which “angry” and “not angry” categories comprised overlapping ranges of scowl intensity, and correct and incorrect responses earned and lost points, respectively. Participants attempted to earn as many points as they could; adopting an optimal response bias would maximize decision utility. Participants with higher WMC more optimally tuned their anger perception response bias to accommodate their perceptual sensitivity (their ability to discriminate the categories) than did participants with lower WMC. Other factors that influence response bias (i.e., the relative base rate of angry vs. not angry faces and the decision costs and benefits) were ruled out as contributors to the WMC-bias relationship. Our results suggest that WMC optimizes emotion perception by contributing to perceivers’ ability to adjust their response bias to account for their level of perceptual sensitivity, likely an important component of adapting emotion perception to dynamic social interactions and changing circumstances.
  • Is Part Of: Emotion, 2016, Vol.16(2), pp.155-163
  • Identifier: ISSN: 1528-3542 ; E-ISSN: 1931-1516 ; DOI: 10.1037/emo0000111
  • Subjects: Working Memory Capacity ; Emotion Perception ; Decision Making ; Signal Detection Theory ; Optimality
  • Language: English

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