The first aim of the study was to investigate whether facial imitative responses and subjective experiences of emotional contagion (self-reported hedonic tone) can be evoked as a result of unconscious information processing or whether these responses rely on conscious, interpretative processing. As a second aim, the correspondence between the participants’ self-reported hedonic tone and the magnitude of their facial responses was investigated. The third aim was to explore how increased involvement of conscious processing (longer exposure times) influenced facial imitative responses, self-reported hedonic tone, and the correspondence between these responses. Information-processing levels from unconscious (17–23 ms) to conscious (2,500 ms) levels were induced by successively prolonged presentations of facial stimuli. The 102 participants were exposed to masked pictures of happy, angry, and sad facial expressions. Facial responses (EMG) and self-reports of hedonic tone were measured after facial stimuli exposures. Verbally reported emotional contagion and zygomaticus imitative responses were observed at the subliminal exposure level, as well as correlations between these responses. These results were interpreted as being in line with a spontaneous, unconscious process involved in imitation and the subjective experiences of emotional contagion. Correlations between the participants’ magnitude of facial responses and their degree of emotional contagion were found at all exposure levels, from subliminal to clearly supraliminal levels of exposure. At the supraliminal exposure, 26 of the participants responded with inverted zygomaticus responses (“smiles”) toward angry expressions, a response that may be interpreted as a defensive response.
- Psykologi (501)