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Accurate recognition of the people we encounter is important for successful navigation of many aspects of life, as faces are often the primary source for social cues. Yet, research on emotionally expressive facial recognition memory in specific has revealed mixed results. Some studies have found that happy faces are more accurately recognized than angry faces, whereas others have found the opposite. Pazderski and McBride (2018) provided evidence of delay length contributing to a happy face recognition advantage in some past studies (i.e., longer delays) versus an angry face recognition advantage in others (i.e., shorter delays). However, the root of the differences in emotionally expressive face processing is still unclear. The current study examined the influence of current anxiety levels on the encoding of novel emotionally expressive faces in a within-subject design that tested recognition of happy and fearful faces at two delays (immediate and 10 min). The results demonstrated a significant interaction among current anxiety levels, test delay length, and emotional expression processing. The pattern found by Pazderski and McBride (2018) was replicated with fearful faces. These results provide a step toward generalizing results found previously with angry faces to fearful expressions and show that anxiety does play a role in face processing.
DeVore, Amanda, "Anxiety Level As A Factor In Emotionally Expressive Facial Recognition" (2021). Psychology. 24.