Emotion frst: children prioritize emotional faces in gaze‑cued attentional orienting

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Anna Pecchinenda, Manuel Petrucci (2019): Emotion frst: children prioritize emotional faces in gaze‑cued attentional orienting. In: Psychological Research, 2019.

Abstract

Children shift their attention based on the gaze direction of another person but it is unclear whether they prioritize only the gaze of fearful faces over neutral ones or more generally, the gaze of emotional faces. School children performed a gazecueing task, in which central, non-predictive happy, angry, and neutral face-cues were briefy presented with averted gaze.
Findings for 9–10-year-old children showed that the magnitude of gaze-cueing efects for happy and angry face-cues was similar and it was particularly larger with angry compared to neutral face-cues. In contrast, 6–7-year-old children showed gaze-cueing efects only with happy face-cues. The present fndings clearly indicate that older children show emotionenhanced gaze-cueing efects. In contrast, younger children did not show gaze-cueing efects with neutral and angry faces but they did with happy faces. The implications of age diferences in the ability to prioritize emotional faces when shifting attention based on the observed gaze direction of a non-predictive face-cue are discussed in the context of the extant literature

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