Faces are the most commonly used stimuli to study emotions. Researchers often manipulate the emotion contents and facial features to study emotion judgment, but rarely manipulate low-level stimulus features such as face sizes. Here, I investigated whether a mere difference in face size would cause differences in emotion judgment. Subjects discriminated emotions in fear-happy morphed faces. When subjects viewed larger faces, they had an increased judgment of fear and showed a higher specificity in emotion judgment, compared to when they viewed smaller faces. Concurrent high-resolution eye tracking further provided mechanistic insights: subjects had more fixations onto the eyes when they viewed larger faces whereas they had a wider dispersion of fixations when they viewed smaller faces. The difference in eye movement was present across fixations in serial order but independent of morph level, ambiguity level, or behavioral judgment. Together, this study not only suggested a link between emotion judgment and eye movement, but also showed importance of equalizing stimulus sizes when comparing emotion judgments.

Original languageEnglish
Article number317
JournalScientific reports
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 1 2018


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