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Cogn Emot. 2014;28(6):1100-9. doi: 10.1080/02699931.2013.867831. Epub 2013 Dec 18.

Searching for emotion or race: task-irrelevant facial cues have asymmetrical effects.

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a School of Psychology , The University of Queensland , Brisbane , Australia.


Facial cues of threat such as anger and other race membership are detected preferentially in visual search tasks. However, it remains unclear whether these facial cues interact in visual search. If both cues equally facilitate search, a symmetrical interaction would be predicted; anger cues should facilitate detection of other race faces and cues of other race membership should facilitate detection of anger. Past research investigating this race by emotional expression interaction in categorisation tasks revealed an asymmetrical interaction. This suggests that cues of other race membership may facilitate the detection of angry faces but not vice versa. Utilising the same stimuli and procedures across two search tasks, participants were asked to search for targets defined by either race or emotional expression. Contrary to the results revealed in the categorisation paradigm, cues of anger facilitated detection of other race faces whereas differences in race did not differentially influence detection of emotion targets.


Anger superiority effect; Emotional expression; Other race faces; Visual search

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