Binocular rivalry is the perceptual alternation between two incompatible stimuli presented simultaneously but to each eye separately. The observer's perception switches back and forth between the two stimuli that are competing for perceptual dominance. In two studies, pictures of emotional faces (disgust and happy) were pitted against each other or against pictures of faces with neutral expressions. Study 1 demonstrated that (a) emotional facial expressions predominate over neutral expressions, and (b) positive facial expressions predominate over negative facial expression (i.e., positivity bias). Study 2 examined individual differences in emotional predominance and positivity bias during binocular rivalry. Although the positivity bias was not affected by the levels of depressive symptoms, results demonstrated that emotional predominance diminished as the level of depressive symptoms increased. These results indicate that individuals who report more depressive symptoms compared to their less depressed counterparts tend to assign more meaning to neutral faces.
- binocular rivalry
- facial expression
- multistable visual perception
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