CE28 - Cognition, éducation, formation tout au long de la vie

INdividual personality traits and emotion in the Perception-ACTion Loop – IN-PACT

IN-PACT

Individual personality traits and emotion in the perception-ACTion Loop

What place for emotions in the Perception-Action loop?

Emotions, far from being passive, can be viewed as an interface between an individual and the environment, i.e. preparing the body to act through action tendencies such as approach or avoidance behavior. However, despite this functional significance, emotions are almost never examined through the lens of the Perception-Action loop. Some studies have examined how the perception of emotional stimuli <br />an affect action tendencies, assessed using self-report questionnaires, joystick tasks or more directly through posturographic measurement of body sway in passive perception tasks of emotional stimuli. While the perception of disgust or happy stimuli generally induces avoidance or approach tendencies respectively, action patterns associated with anger, sadness and fear are still debated. The contradictory results on these emotions may be related to differences in individual personality traits that could play a role in this relation by accentuating approach or avoidance tendencies. To our knowledge, no prior study has examined the other end of the loop, i.e. the influence of action <br />tendencies on perception. The main objective of the project is then to integrate emotions in the perception-action loop as predispositions to act and to examine how the individual personality traits -from normal to sub-clinical dimensions- may be a major interacting factor in these relations. By placing our research in the theoretical framework of the distance-regulating view of motivation, we postulate 1/ that approach and avoidance tendencies, viewed as a readiness to decrease or ncrease the physical distance with the environment, should involve changes in the perceptual experience of the observer, and 2/ that individual personality traits should act as reinforcers of action tendencies leading to specific perceptual/motor performances.

We test these hypotheses in four experimental workpackages (WP) by combining for the first time on a large number of participants oculomotor/posturographic measures, perceptual responses on social or non-social stimuli and self-report questionnaires. In the first WP, we examine the interactions between the perception of facial expressions and action tendencies as a function of the individual traits by using posturographic measures. In the second WP, we focus on the observer's gaze behavior by looking at whether the perception of different expressions leads to specific oculomotor explorations of faces depending
of the observer’s personality traits. In the third WP, we examine the hypothesis that individual traits, as reinforcers of action tendencies, modulate perception even for non-social stimuli. Finally, in the fourth WP, some of the tasks from WP1-2 are conducted with individuals with hypomanic and schizotypal traits to examine whether they present exacerbated action tendencies that could modify their perception accordingly.

WP1 measured action tendencies through posturographic recordings by manipulating two key social cues: the direction of other people's gaze and interpersonal distance. In task 1, the perception of another's gaze was indexed by the Direct Gaze Cone (CoDG) referring to the width over which an observer feels someone's gaze is directed towards him. A large CoDG indicates that the observer perceives the face as looking at him when the direction of gaze is ambiguous. The results show a wider CoDG for angry and disgusted faces and narrower for fearful faces. In addition, facial expressions combined with direction of gaze influence participants' postural stability, but not approach-avoidance behaviors. In task 2, using a preferred distance judgment perceptual task for face-to-face social interaction, faces expressing anger and disgust, followed by faces displaying fear, then sadness, are kept at a greater distance by participants from faces displaying neutrality or joy. Likewise, the simulated behavior of others (faces approaching or withdrawing) conveying these different basic emotions has an impact on the postural stability of the participants and their tendencies to action. Specifically, participants exhibit a tendency to approach towards happy and neutral faces, and to a lesser extent fearful and sad faces. They exhibit freezing behavior when exposed to disgusted faces and avoid angry faces. Individual traits and emotional states (eg, extraversion, neuroticism, anger, anxiety) modulate the relationship between emotion and direction of gaze / regulation of interpersonal distance.

Our research project should contribute to advancing theoretical knowledge on both perception-action and emotion fields that currently do not necessarily communicate with each other. By putting the emotions at the heart of the perception-action loop, our project will shed light on how social emotion perception influences action tendencies and, more innovatively, how action tendencies also modulate perception of social and even non-social stimuli. Moreover, whereas the link between emotion processing and individual traits is a major focus of interest in the literature, giving a central role to individual traits in perceptual and motor processes is new and should impact theoretical models of sensorimotor control. Beyond these scientific impacts, increasing our knowledge of the role of emotion and individual traits on perception-action interactions has several applications. As individual traits can affect mood and social interactions, a more unified understanding of these interactions is essential, especially in the clinical field to design better evaluation and remediation tools for pathologies that affect social behavior. In particular, better understand the role of emotions in the P-A loop in people with schizotypal or hypomanic personality traits offers a useful framework for understanding the development of schizophrenia and bipolar spectrum disorders in order to elaborate prevention stategies and to limit the impact on education and formation for young people vulnerable to transition psychiatric. The findings of our project could also have a great impact in the field of education. A better knowledge of the influence of individual traits on the learner's behavior will undoubtedly help teachers to take them into account in order to manage and improve interaction during learning.

The first results for this ANR were presented in two manuscripts, the first is submitted, the second is under review.

Emotions, far from being passive, can be viewed as an interface between an individual and the environment. Thus, it is not surprising that emotions have been assigned a motivational function, i.e. preparing the body to act through action tendencies such as approach or avoidance behavior. However, despite this functional significance, emotions are almost never examined through the lens of the Perception-Action loop. Some studies have examined how the perception of emotional stimuli an affect action tendencies, assessed using self-report questionnaires, joystick tasks or more directly through posturographic measurement of body sway in passive perception tasks of emotional stimuli. While the perception of disgust or happy stimuli generally induces avoidance or approach tendencies respectively, action patterns associated with anger, sadness and fear are still debated. The contradictory results on these emotions may be related to differences in individual personality traits that could play a role in this relation by accentuating approach or avoidance tendencies. To our knowledge, no prior study has examined the other end of the loop, i.e. the influence of action tendencies on perception. The main objective of the project is then to integrate emotions in the perception-action loop as predispositions to act and to examine how the individual personality traits -from normal to sub-clinical dimensions- may be a major interacting factor in these relations. By placing our research in the theoretical framework of the distance-regulating view of motivation, we postulate 1/ that approach and avoidance tendencies, viewed as a readiness to decrease or increase the physical distance with the environment, should involve changes in the perceptual experience of the observer, and 2/ that individual personality traits should act as reinforcers of action tendencies leading to specific perceptual/motor performances. We will test these hypotheses in four experimental workpackages (WP) by combining for the first time on a large number of participants oculomotor/posturographic measures, perceptual responses on social or non-social stimuli and self-report questionnaires. In the first WP, we will examine the interactions between the perception of facial expressions and action tendencies as a function of the individual traits by using posturographic measures. In the second WP, we will focus on the observer's gaze behavior by looking at whether the perception of different expressions leads to specific oculomotor explorations of faces depending of the observer’s personality traits. In the third WP, we will examine the hypothesis that individual traits, as reinforcers of action tendencies, modulate perception even for non-social stimuli. Finally, in the fourth WP, some of the tasks from WP1-2 will be conducted with individuals with hypomanic and schizotypal traits to examine whether they present exacerbated action tendencies that could modify their perception accordingly. This project should provide a unique opportunity to achieve an integrated view of the place of emotions and the major role of individual traits in the perception-action loop.

Project coordination

Dorine VERGILINO PEREZ (Laboratoire Vision Action Cognition)

The author of this summary is the project coordinator, who is responsible for the content of this summary. The ANR declines any responsibility as for its contents.

Partner

C2S Cognition, Santé, Société
ISIR Institut des Systèmes Intelligents et de Robotique
UPDESCARTES -EA 7326 Laboratoire Vision Action Cognition

Help of the ANR 336,950 euros
Beginning and duration of the scientific project: December 2019 - 48 Months

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