Attractiveness moderates the happy face advantage

Sofie Lindeberg, Ottmar V. Lipp, Belinda M. Craig

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstractResearchpeer-review


In speeded emotion categorization, a ‘happy face advantage’ (i.e. happy faces are categorized as happy faster than angry faces as angry) has repeatedly been demonstrated. Other facial cues, such as sex or race moderate the happy face advantage in evaluative congruent ways. Female and own-race faces are evaluated more favorably than male and other-race faces and the happy face advantage is larger for female and own-race faces than for male and other-race faces respectively. We investigated whether facial attributes unrelated to social categories such as attractiveness would moderate the happy face advantage consistent with the evaluative congruence account. Across three experiments participants categorized attractive and unattractive faces as happy or angry as quickly and accurately as possible. As predicted, when female faces were categorized separately, a happy face advantage emerged for the attractive females but not for the unattractive females. Corresponding results were not found for male faces. This pattern was confirmed when female and male faces were categorized together, indicating that attractiveness has a stronger influence on emotion perception for female faces. The usual sex effect was not found indicating that effects of social category cues in emotion categorization may be moderated by subjective evaluations of face pleasantness.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2017
Externally publishedYes
Event44th Annual Conference of the Australasian Society for Experimental Psychology - Shoal Bay, Australia
Duration: 19 Apr 201722 Apr 2017
Conference number: 44th


Conference44th Annual Conference of the Australasian Society for Experimental Psychology
Abbreviated titleEPC
CityShoal Bay


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