Participants’ self-reported feelings of pleasantness confirmed that the affect manipulations successfully influenced participants’ affective state, F(2, 98) = 43.05, p <.001. After viewing negative IAPS images, participants reported their experience as significantly less pleasant than following neutral t(49) = 7.104, p < .001, or positive IAPS images t(49) = 7.008, p < .001. And after viewing pleasant IAPS images, participants reported feeling more pleasant than following neutral IAPS images t(49) = 3.974, p < .001.
presents the average duration that faces dominated in visual consciousness for all affect induction conditions. Across all affect induction conditions, smiling faces dominated in visual consciousness more than neutral or scowling faces, χ2 (1) =10.88, p =
.001. This might have occurred because smiling faces contain more variations in contrast (light and dark patches) than do neutral and scowling faces, and such low level visual properties cause images to be more visually dominant (Blake, 2001
). Even with the increased dominance of smiling faces, however, we found evidence that a perceiver’s affective state influenced visual consciousness in a top-down fashion.
When perceivers were in an unpleasant affective state, we found evidence for the social vigilance hypothesis. Specifically, all faces dominated in visual consciousness for a longer time when perceivers were in an unpleasant affective state compared to when they were in a neutral state, χ2 (1) =5.54, p < .018. Nonetheless, scowling faces dominated significantly longer when perceivers were unpleasant than when they were neutral (the change was 439.4 ms longer) and this was statistically significant, χ2 (1) =7.28, p < .007. The change was not significant when comparing the dominance of scowling faces in a pleasant versus a neutral affective state, however. Because scowling faces were not more dominant in in absolute terms when perceivers were feeling unpleasant, this serves as evidence of a relative negative congruence effect.
When perceivers were in a pleasant affective state, we found evidence of a relative positive congruence effect. Specifically, after viewing pleasant IAPS images, smiling faces dominated for 310.07 ms longer than did scowling faces, χ 2 (1) =4.26, p < .037 and 382.22 ms longer than did neutral faces, χ 2 (1) =8.79, p < .003. Thus, in an absolute sense, smiling faces dominated longer but smiling faces dominated across all conditions, and this was not unique to a pleasant affective state. Still, smiling faces dominated significantly longer than did neutral faces only when perceivers were in a pleasant affective state; this comparison was not statistically significant when perceivers were in a neutral state, χ 2 (1) = 1.53, p < .21. Social vigilance was not observed for pleasant affective states, χ 2 (1) =1.07, p < .30.
Finally, when the perceiver’s affective state was set to neutral, we found no evidence of an affective salience effect. When perceivers were in a neutral state, smiling and scowling faces did not dominate in visual consciousness longer as compared to neutral faces, χ 2 (1) =.03, p > .50.