The Japanese Journal of Cognitive Psychology
Online ISSN : 2185-0321
Print ISSN : 1348-7264
ISSN-L : 1348-7264
Original Articles
Effects of facial expressions in selective enumeration tasks: A study focusing on sad expressions
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2022 Volume 20 Issue 1 Pages 1-7


When communicating with multiple others, it is vital to understand the approximate number of people with a particular facial expression when assessing a situation. A previous study of numerosity estimations for emotional faces observed lower accuracy and underestimations for angry faces compared to neutral faces (Baker, Rodzon, & Jordan, 2013). However, the task used in this study was a simple enumeration for an identical face image (i.e., same individual and expression); a situation that does not usually occur in real life. Moreover, the previous research only considered angry faces, but different facial expressions have specific functions. Accordingly, the present study focuses on sad expressions, which convey losses and elicit empathy and prosocial behavior from others, to investigate their effects on enumeration. The participants’ task was to enumerate only certain facial expressions, from among combinations of smiling and neutral or sad and neutral faces, which were displayed for 500 milliseconds. When multiple targets were presented, accuracy for sad faces was lower compared to smiling faces and counts were underestimated. These results suggest that faces with sad emotions hinder enumeration when briefly presented.

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