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Evaluating Anger Bias in Facial Perception Within the Context of a Crowd Setting

When people evaluate the expressions of other people, they can be quite biased, favoring negative or threatening interpretations. Little is known about how context or context many influence this bias. We hypothesized that individuals would be more likely to perceive expressions as angry, especially when those expressions were weak or hard to discriminate. Further, we predicted that this bias toward anger would be more pronounced when viewing crowds as opposed to viewing individual faces. To test this hypothesis, We presented participants with brief images depicting a single face or a crowd of faces expressing anger or happiness either with weak or strong intensity. We then asked the participants to categorize emotional expressions displayed on the faces as either happy or angry. Our results indicated that individuals were indeed more likely to perceive facial expressions as angry, especially when seen in a crowd or at a level of low emotional intensity. These findings suggest that bias is an important component to consider when trying to understand how people make judgements about the emotions of others, especially in crowded social situations.

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