Red enhances the processing of facial expressions of anger

  • Young S
  • Elliot A
  • Feltman R
 et al. 
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Emotional expressions convey important social information. Given the social importance of decoding emotions, expressive faces wield great influence on cognition and perception. However, contextual factors also exert a top-down influence on emotion detection, privileging particular expressions over others. The current research investigates how the psychological meaning implied by the color red biases the processing of anger expressions. Red has been shown to carry the meaning of threat and danger, and in two experiments we find that exposure to red enhances the perception and identification of anger. In Experiment 1, the identification of anger, relative to happiness, was facilitated when faces were viewed on a red background. In Experiment 2, the red-anger facilitation effect was replicated and shown to not generalize to another high arousal negative emotion, fear. These results document a novel influence of color on emotion detection processes. © 2013 American Psychological Association.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Anger
  • Detection
  • Emotion
  • Red
  • Threat

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  • Steven G. Young

  • Andrew J. Elliot

  • Roger Feltman

  • Nalini Ambady

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