Trait dominance promotes reflexive staring at masked angry body postures

Hortensius, R. , van Honk, J., de Gelder, B. and Terburg, D. (2014) Trait dominance promotes reflexive staring at masked angry body postures. PLoS ONE, 9(12), e0116232. (doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0116232) (PMID:25549321) (PMCID:PMC4280224)

198216.pdf - Published Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution.



It has been shown that dominant individuals sustain eye-contact when non-consciously confronted with angry faces, suggesting reflexive mechanisms underlying dominance behaviors. However, dominance and submission can be conveyed and provoked by means of not only facial but also bodily features. So far few studies have investigated the interplay of body postures with personality traits and behavior, despite the biological relevance and ecological validity of these postures. Here we investigate whether non-conscious exposure to bodily expressions of anger evokes reflex-like dominance behavior. In an interactive eye-tracking experiment thirty-two participants completed three social dominance tasks with angry, happy and neutral facial, bodily and face and body compound expressions that were masked from consciousness. We confirmed our predictions of slower gaze-aversion from both non-conscious bodily and compound expressions of anger compared to happiness in high dominant individuals. Results from a follow-up experiment suggest that the dominance behavior triggered by exposure to bodily anger occurs with basic detection of the category, but not recognition of the emotional content. Together these results suggest that dominant staring behavior is reflexively driven by non-conscious perception of the emotional content and triggered by not only facial but also bodily expression of anger.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Hortensius, Dr Ruud
Authors: Hortensius, R., van Honk, J., de Gelder, B., and Terburg, D.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Psychology & Neuroscience
Journal Name:PLoS ONE
Publisher:Public Library of Science
ISSN (Online):1932-6203
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2014 Hortensius et al.
First Published:First published in PLoS ONE 9(12): e0116232
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons License

University Staff: Request a correction | Enlighten Editors: Update this record