The effects of hostility and arousal on facial affect perception: a test of a neuropsychological model of hostility
Herridge, Matthew L.
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Within the field of psychology, hostility has historically been a heavily researched affective construct. The purpose of this experiment was to test hypotheses derived from a neuropsychological model of hostility utilizing two common research paradigms from the extant literatures on hostility's cognitive and physiological correlates. This was accomplished by testing an integral component of a previously proposed neuropsychological model of hostility (Herridge & Harrison, 1994). The purpose of the model was to aid in understanding the chronicity and pervasiveness of a hostile disposition. The model describes a system where physiological arousal level is mediated by systems which also mediate accuracy of an individual's interpretation of affective cues. It was at this level (physiological arousal and perception) that the experimental test was developed. It was predicted that hostile men would show different levels of perceptual accuracy than non-hostile men in both a cold pressor (CP) and no CP condition when tachistoscopically presented with three categories of affective facial configurations (happy, angry, and neutral) in either their left (LVF) or right visual field (RVF). In this sample of college men (N = 56), a four-factor, repeated measures, analysis of variance (ANOVA) produced a significant three-way interaction which indicated that hostile subjects were less accurate than non-hostile subjects in the assessment of happy, angry, and neutral faces in their LVF. However, they were more accurate than subjects classified as non-hostile in the assessment of happy and angry facial configurations in their RVF. Subjects were classified as hostile and non-hostile using joint criteria; the Cook-Medley hostility scale (Ho) and cardiovascular reactivity levels to the arousing stimulus, a CP task. Additionally, a non-significant trend was noted where nonhostile subjects in a no CP state showed more accuracy in the assessment of faces presented to them in their LVF than all other group and CP levels. However, they showed less accuracy than all others when faces were presented in their RVF. These findings are discussed in regard to the proposed model of hostility. Confirmatory and contradictory evidence is discussed relative to current neuropsychological hypotheses on the lateralization of affective function in the cerebral cortex and the role of physiological arousal in affective facial perception. Clinical implications of results are further discussed in relation to anger management interventions in hostile men. Recommendations for future research on hostility, relative to design and new directions, are made.
- Doctoral Dissertations