Past research on attachment theory and the perception of facial expressions of
emotion has revealed that individuals who exhibit higher attachment anxiety
process facial emotions more quickly than do less anxiously attached individuals.
In this study, I attempted to replicate and extend this previous research by adding
a distress component to an experiment. Using a movie morph paradigm,
participants viewed movies of faces in which emotional expressions changed from
displaying an emotion to displaying no emotion. Participants were asked to
indicate the point at which they could no longer tell that an emotional expression
was present. Results revealed that participants who scored higher in attachment
anxiety in the no-distress condition perceived the offset of angry emotions earlier
than did less anxious participants in the no-distress condition. With respect to the
offsetting of happy emotions, highly anxious participants in the distress condition
perceived the offset of happy emotions later than did less anxious participants in
the distress condition. These results suggest that the perception of facial
expressions of emotion is dependent on the level of distress that an individual
Additional contributors: Jeffry Simpson; W. Andrew Collins (faculty mentor); Jessica Salvatore (faculty mentor)
Adult Attachment and the Perception of Facial Expressions of Emotion: Activating the Attachment System with a Distress Manipulation.
Retrieved from the University of Minnesota Digital Conservancy,
Content distributed via the University of Minnesota's Digital Conservancy may be subject to additional license and use restrictions applied by the depositor.