Social perception of faces and bodies: the relationships among motivational salience, social perception, and hormones

Morrison, Danielle Knight (2017) Social perception of faces and bodies: the relationships among motivational salience, social perception, and hormones. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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Social perception (i.e., the formation of impressions based on perceivable cues) of both faces and bodies is an integral part of social interaction and can influence and can be influenced by many variables, such as motivational salience (i.e., the amount of effort an individual will expend to continue viewing faces and bodies) and hormone levels of the perceiver.

The first empirical chapter (i.e., Chapter 2) investigated social perception of faces and bodies using multiple trait ratings. First, participants rated face and body stimuli on the same 13 traits as those used in the seminal article on social perception of faces. Replicating previous work, I found that social perception of faces can be summarized by the two-component pattern of valence (i.e., intent to cause harm) and dominance (i.e., ability to cause harm). Social perception of bodies, though, can be summarized by one main component. Therefore, social perception of faces and bodies followed different, distinct patterns.

The second empirical chapter (i.e., Chapter 3) investigated the relationship between the social perception components established in Chapter 2 and motivational salience. I assessed motivational salience using a standard key-press task in which participants could increase or decrease stimulus viewing time by pressing specified keys on the keyboard. Replicating previous work, valence and dominance positively and independently predicted the motivational salience of faces. Additionally, the one main social perception component of bodies positively predicted the motivational salience of bodies.

The third empirical chapter (i.e., Chapter 4) investigated the relationship among the previously established social perception component of bodies, motivational salience of bodies, and hormone levels of the perceivers. I used the passive drool method of hormone measurement to determine exact hormone levels at five weekly test sessions. Similar to studies of faces, motivational salience of bodies was greater when testosterone was higher. While the one social perception component for bodies positively predicted motivational salience separately for male and female bodies, there was no interaction between testosterone and the social perception component, failing to conceptually replicate previous interactions between testosterone and stimulus valence.

Overall, I first replicated the two-component social perception pattern of valence and dominance for faces before finding a different, one-component social perception pattern for bodies. In turn, each of these social perception components predicted motivational salience of faces and bodies. Additionally, motivational salience of bodies was greater when testosterone was high, but this effect was not qualified by the main social perception component for bodies. I conclude by discussing the similarities and differences between faces and bodies in this and other work on social perception and motivational salience.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Additional Information: Currently, a combined version of Chapters 2 and 3, entitled "Predicting the reward value of faces and bodies from social perception," has been accepted for publication at PLOS One. (Published September 19, 2017).
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Colleges/Schools: College of Science and Engineering > School of Psychology
Supervisor's Name: DeBruine, Dr. Lisa and Jones, Professor Benedict
Date of Award: 2017
Depositing User: Danielle Morrison
Unique ID: glathesis:2017-8515
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 18 Oct 2017 15:07
Last Modified: 08 Nov 2017 16:07
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