Lecture: Emotional Prosody Perception
Investigating Negativity Bias and Threat Advantage
Emotional prosody is an important part of speech as it allows us to convey our affective state to listeners. However, the perception of emotional prosody underlies several factors and is not universal to all speakers, listeners, and emotions. While I am mainly interested in the impairment of emotional prosody perception and production, during this talk I would like to present a study I conducted on neurotypical individuals to test the processing of emotional prosody perception. In order to determine if processing is facilitated by certain types of emotions, I measured reaction times in a classification task which involved audio recordings of semantically neutral sentences in respectively neutral, happy, sad and angry prosody. Earlier research on general emotion recognition and emotional prosody perception found an advantage for negative emotions. This cognitive mechanism is called negativity bias. Also, there is some conflicting evidence for faster processing of anger in particular. My findings were partly in line with this. I found evidence for a negativity bias supported by significantly shorter reaction times for sad stimuli and less accurate responses for happy stimuli. However, angry stimuli did not evoke faster reaction times than sad stimuli, therefore I could not find evidence for a threat advantage. This might be due to study design and has to be investigated in further experiments.