Context-Dependent Categorical Perception of Surprise
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Evidence regarding the categorical perception of surprise facial expressions has been equivocal. Surprise is inherently ambiguous with respect to valence: it could be positive or negative. If this ambiguity interferes with categorical perception, disambiguating the valence might facilitate categorical perception. Participants identified and discriminated images that were selected from expression continua: happy-fear, surprise-fear, happy-surprise. Half were presented with a context for the surprise expressions indicating positive or negative valence. Both groups had a typical identification curve, but discrimination performance was better predicted by identification in the context condition for happy-fear and surprise-fear continua, suggesting that categorical perception was facilitated by the disambiguating context.
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