Recognition of facial expressions is moderated by Islamic cues.

Cognition & emotion

PubMedID: 28566058

Kret ME, Fischer AH. Recognition of facial expressions is moderated by Islamic cues. Cogn Emot. 2017;1-9.
Recognising emotions from faces that are partly covered is more difficult than from fully visible faces. The focus of the present study is on the role of an Islamic versus non-Islamic context, i. e. Islamic versus non-Islamic headdress in perceiving emotions. We report an experiment that investigates whether briefly presented (40 ms) facial expressions of anger, fear, happiness and sadness are perceived differently when covered by a niqab or turban, compared to a cap and shawl. In addition, we examined whether oxytocin, a neuropeptide regulating affection, bonding and cooperation between ingroup members and fostering outgroup vigilance and derogation, would differentially impact on emotion recognition from wearers of Islamic versus non-Islamic headdresses. THE RESULTS
first of all show that the recognition of happiness was more accurate when the face was covered by a Western compared to Islamic headdress.Second, participants more often incorrectly assigned sadness to a face covered by an Islamic headdress compared to a cap and shawl. Third, when correctly recognising sadness, they did so faster when the face was covered by an Islamic compared to Western headdress. Fourth, oxytocin did not modulate any of these effects.

IMPLICATIONS
for theorising about the role of group membership on emotion perception are discussed.