Articles

  • the Korean Society for Brain and Neural Sciences

Article

Original Article

Exp Neurobiol 2019; 28(2): 261-269

Published online April 30, 2019

https://doi.org/10.5607/en.2019.28.2.261

© The Korean Society for Brain and Neural Sciences

The Influence of Anxiety on the Recognition of Facial Emotion Depends on the Emotion Category and Race of the Target Faces

Wonjun Kang1,†, Gayoung Kim1,†, Hyehyeon Kim1, and Sue-Hyun Lee1,2*

1Department of Bio and Brain Engineering, College of Engineering, Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST), Daejeon 34141, Korea.

2Program of Brain and Cognitive Engineering, College of Engineering, Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST), Daejeon 34141, Korea.

Correspondence to: *To whom correspondence should be addressed.
TEL: 82-42-350-4311, FAX: 82-42-350-4310
e-mail: suelee@kaist.ac.kr
These authors contributed equally

Received: January 4, 2019; Revised: February 26, 2019; Accepted: February 27, 2019

The recognition of emotional facial expressions is critical for our social interactions. While some prior studies have shown that a high anxiety level is associated with more sensitive recognition of emotion, there are also reports supporting that anxiety did not affect or reduce the sensitivity to the recognition of facial emotions. To reconcile these results, here we investigated whether the effect of individual anxiety on the recognition of facial emotions is dependent on the emotion category and the race of the target faces. We found that, first, there was a significant positive correlation between the individual anxiety level and the recognition sensitivity for angry faces but not for sad or happy faces. Second, while the correlation was significant for both low- and high-intensity angry faces during the recognition of the observer's own-race faces, there was significant correlation only for low-intensity angry faces during the recognition of other-race faces. Collectively, our results suggest that the influence of anxiety on the recognition of facial emotions is flexible depending on the characteristics of the target face stimuli including emotion category and race.

Graphical Abstract


Keywords: Anxiety, Facial emotion, Emotion recognition, Race