Anger or happiness superiority effect: A face in the crowd study involving nine emotions expressed by nine people

Halamova, J.1, Strnadelova, B.1, Kanovsky, M.2, Moro, R.3, Bielikova, M.

1 Institute of Applied Psychology, Faculty of Social and Economic Sciences, Comenius University in Bratislava, Bratislava, Slovakia
2 Institute of Social Anthropology, Faculty of Social and Economic Sciences, Comenius University in Bratislava, Bratislava, Slovakia
3 Institute of Informatics, Information Systems and Software Engineering, Faculty of Informatics and Information Technologies, Slovak University of Technology in Bratislava, Bratislava, Slovakia

Whether the Anger Superiority Effect prevails over the Happiness Superiority Effect has been the subject of much discussion. Problems with the research design and methodology used in this type of research could account for differences in the results. This face-in-the-crowd study attempted a more ecologically valid design using nine multiplied identities showing nine different emotions expressions in a randomized 3 × 3 grid. The aim of this research was to explore the duration of fixation on nine emotional faces in a crowd showing all seven primary emotion plus embarrassment, compared to the neutral face expression. The convenience sample consisted of 136 participants with no mental health diagnosis (M = 22.5; SD = 8.54). Happiness had the longest fixation duration by far, providing clear support for the happiness superiority effect. In addition, participants fixated significantly more often on anger, disgust, surprise, and fear, and significantly less often on embarrassment, compared to the neutral expression. Fixation on contempt and sadness did not differ significantly from fixating on the neutral expression. The research supported the happiness superiority effect using more realistic grids consisting of nine different people (women and men) exhibiting nine different emotions with random rotation of grid positions.

Cite: Halamova, J., Strnadelova, B., Kanovsky, M., Moro, R., Bielikova, Anger or happiness superiority effect: A face in the crowd study involving nine emotions expressed by nine people. Current Psychology (2022). DOI: 10.1007/s12144-022-02762-3

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Authors

Róbert Móro
Senior Researcher
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Maria Bielikova
Expert Researcher
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