Mere Exposure to Faces Increases Attention to Vocal Affect: A Cross-Cultural Investigation

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In interpersonal communication, vocal affect often reveals the speaker's relational attitudes. Because knowing partners' relational attitudes is crucial in subsequent social interaction, people may automatically allocate attention to vocal affect especially when they are relationally engaged. The present work examined cross-culturally whether automatic attention to vocal affect would be enhanced by a mere exposure to schematic faces, which are ubiquitous in social interaction and cues indicating social engagement. Japanese and American participants judged the verbal meaning of emotionally spoken emotional words while ignoring the vocal tone. Consistent with previous studies, interference by to-be-ignored vocal affect was significantly greater for Japanese than for Americans. Moreover, as predicted, it was also greater when participants were exposed to schematic human faces while listening to the stimulus utterance regardless of cultures, suggesting that attention to vocal tone increases in a much subtler, cross-cultural fashion and with mere exposure to schematic faces. Implications for future work are discussed.


  • Cognitive Studies

    Cognitive Studies 18(3), 453-461, 2011

    Japanese Cognitive Science Society


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