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Effects of Brain Laterality on Decoding Accuracy for Facial Displays of Emotion
Unformatted Document Text:  Effects of Brain 5 his 1872 book to detailing the repertoire of behaviors associated with each major emotional state, and he predicted a great deal of similarity across races and cultures in both the encoding and decoding of such emotions, a proposition that was later supported with cross-cultural comparisons conducted by Ekman, Friesen, and Ellsworth (1972), Eibl-Eibesfeldt (1972), Izard (1971), and others. If one accepts the notion that facial affect displays are (at least, sometimes) representative of underlying physical or emotional states, then there can be little question that the ability to decode affect displays accurately proffers an adaptive advantage to the decoder. 2 For example, if an individual experiencing grave threat engages in a facial display of fear, those who can accurately decode that display should, on average, be better able to avert the threat themselves than those with inferior decoding abilities. Those in the former category should, therefore, have greater success with viability (survival) and fertility (procreation) than those in the latter category. Likewise, the ability to recognize facial and oculesic displays of attraction should similarly advantage decoders in terms of their long-term procreative success (for discussion, see Redican, 1982). Some previous empirical investigations have examined the individual-level characteristics that influence people’s decoding abilities for facial displays of emotion. One of the more common findings from this line of inquiry is that women surpass men in their ability to decode facial affect displays accurately (see, e.g., Wagner, MacDonald, & Manstead, 1986; Zuckerman, Hall, DeFrank, & Rosenthal, 1976; Zuckerman, Lipets, Koivumaki, & Rosenthal, 1975). Other research indicates that characteristics such as sensitivity (Sabatelli, Buck, & Dreyer, 1980), social competence (Zuckerman, Larrance, Hall, DeFrank, & Rosenthal, 1979),

Authors: Floyd, Kory. and Mikkelson, Alan.
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Effects of Brain 5
his 1872 book to detailing the repertoire of behaviors associated with each major emotional state,
and he predicted a great deal of similarity across races and cultures in both the encoding and
decoding of such emotions, a proposition that was later supported with cross-cultural
comparisons conducted by Ekman, Friesen, and Ellsworth (1972), Eibl-Eibesfeldt (1972), Izard
(1971), and others.
If one accepts the notion that facial affect displays are (at least, sometimes) representative
of underlying physical or emotional states, then there can be little question that the ability to
decode affect displays accurately proffers an adaptive advantage to the decoder.
2
For example, if
an individual experiencing grave threat engages in a facial display of fear, those who can
accurately decode that display should, on average, be better able to avert the threat themselves
than those with inferior decoding abilities. Those in the former category should, therefore, have
greater success with viability (survival) and fertility (procreation) than those in the latter
category. Likewise, the ability to recognize facial and oculesic displays of attraction should
similarly advantage decoders in terms of their long-term procreative success (for discussion, see
Redican, 1982).
Some previous empirical investigations have examined the individual-level
characteristics that influence people’s decoding abilities for facial displays of emotion. One of
the more common findings from this line of inquiry is that women surpass men in their ability to
decode facial affect displays accurately (see, e.g., Wagner, MacDonald, & Manstead, 1986;
Zuckerman, Hall, DeFrank, & Rosenthal, 1976; Zuckerman, Lipets, Koivumaki, & Rosenthal,
1975). Other research indicates that characteristics such as sensitivity (Sabatelli, Buck, &
Dreyer, 1980), social competence (Zuckerman, Larrance, Hall, DeFrank, & Rosenthal, 1979),


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