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Emotion. 2012 Dec;12(6):1210-21. doi: 10.1037/a0027514. Epub 2012 Apr 16.

Out of sight but not out of mind: unseen affective faces influence evaluations and social impressions.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, Northeastern University, Boston, MA 02115, USA.


Using Continuous Flash Suppression (CFS), we demonstrated in four experiments that affective information extracted from unseen faces influences both affective and personality judgments of neutral faces. In four experiments, participants judged neutral faces as more pleasant or unpleasant (Studies 1 and 2) or as more or less trustworthy, likable, and attractive (Study 3) or as more or less competent or interpersonally warm (Study 4) when paired with unseen smiling or scowling faces compared to when paired with unseen neutral faces. These findings suggest that affective influences are a normal part of everyday experience and provide evidence for the affective foundations consciousness. Affective misattribution arises even when affective changes occur after a neutral stimulus is presented, demonstrating that these affective influences cannot be explained as a simple semantic priming effect. These findings have implications for understanding the constructive nature of experience, as well as the role of affect in social impressions.

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