Major

Neuroscience

Anticipated Graduation Year

2020

Access Type

Open Access

Abstract

Past studies from our lab have shown that short-term and chronic exposure to media violence can modulate the implicit processing of emotional faces (Stockdale et al., 2015, 2017). However, other research has shown that media violence can increase the speed and accuracy of identifying angry faces when participants are explicitly asked to attend to emotion. To investigate how media violence interacts with attention to emotional stimuli, we asked participants to complete a stop-signal task (SST) with happy and angry face stimuli, while they either categorized the gender (Implicit SST; n = 47) or the facial expression (Explicit SST; n = 40). Prior to completing the SST, participants watched a violent and non-violent film one-week apart in counterbalanced order. RT and SST accuracy did not differ based on film condition during the explicit version of the task. However, during the implicit task, exposure to the violent video eliminated differences in gender classification between happy and angry faces, once again showing the desensitizing effects of media violence on emotional face processing. A similar pattern emerged in N170 amplitudes, where violent film exposure eliminated differences between happy and angry faces when participants watched a non-violent clip. Media violence did not impact performance in the explicit task; however, processing angry faces received increased resources as measured by both increased angry face RT and increased amplitudes and delayed peak P100 and N170 latencies. These results suggest that short-term exposure to media violence differentially impacts emotional face processing depending on whether emotion processing receives focused attention.

Faculty Mentors & Instructors

Robert Morrison, PhD, Psychology; Joseph Vukov, PhD, Philosophy

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.

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The Influence of Media Violence Exposure on Explicit and Implicit Emotional Face Processing

Past studies from our lab have shown that short-term and chronic exposure to media violence can modulate the implicit processing of emotional faces (Stockdale et al., 2015, 2017). However, other research has shown that media violence can increase the speed and accuracy of identifying angry faces when participants are explicitly asked to attend to emotion. To investigate how media violence interacts with attention to emotional stimuli, we asked participants to complete a stop-signal task (SST) with happy and angry face stimuli, while they either categorized the gender (Implicit SST; n = 47) or the facial expression (Explicit SST; n = 40). Prior to completing the SST, participants watched a violent and non-violent film one-week apart in counterbalanced order. RT and SST accuracy did not differ based on film condition during the explicit version of the task. However, during the implicit task, exposure to the violent video eliminated differences in gender classification between happy and angry faces, once again showing the desensitizing effects of media violence on emotional face processing. A similar pattern emerged in N170 amplitudes, where violent film exposure eliminated differences between happy and angry faces when participants watched a non-violent clip. Media violence did not impact performance in the explicit task; however, processing angry faces received increased resources as measured by both increased angry face RT and increased amplitudes and delayed peak P100 and N170 latencies. These results suggest that short-term exposure to media violence differentially impacts emotional face processing depending on whether emotion processing receives focused attention.