Chronotype and Facial Affect Processing: An Assessment Among the College Population Open Access

Recht, Eli Benjamin (2012)

Permanent URL: https://etd.library.emory.edu/concern/etds/gb19f587n?locale=en
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Abstract

Abstract
Chronotype and Facial Affect Processing: An Assessment Among the College Population
Research suggests that a propensity towards evening activities correlates with a predisposition
for mood disorders. Mood disorders, in turn, correlates with impaired social functioning. The
purpose of this study was to investigate the impact of chronotype and temporal preference on
social cognition, particularly facial affects processing. We recruited 69 undergraduate students
(18 males, 51 females) for our sample. To determine chronotype, we placed subjects into an
evening or non-evening group based on their scores from the Morningness-Eveningness
Questionnaire (MEQ). To determine whether they were assessed at their preferred or non-
preferred time of day, we placed subjects into a preferred or non-preferred group based on a
match between their MEQ score and the time of their testing. Subjects were shown four facial
expressions-anger, happiness, sadness, and surprise-each with ten equal gradients in
increasing emotional intensity. During a computer judgment task, subjects rated these
expressions using a 9-pt intensity scale. Our results show that there were no significant
differences in the average intensity ratings of the four facial expressions between the evening
group and the non-evening group or between the preferred-time group and the non-preferred-
time group. However, we conducted an exploratory analysis, which demonstrated a time-of-day
effect for college students to rate the intensity of facial expressions higher at the higher ranges of
intensity during the evening than during the morning. Due to our small sample sizes and
inconclusive results, future studies must be conducted to determine whether chronotype and
time-of-day impact facial affect processing and social cognition. It is important that we continue
investigating the relationships between chronotype, temporal preference, time of day, and social
cognition, as significant findings may have large implications for treating mood and social
cognitive disorders, especially in evening-oriented or highly social populations.

Table of Contents


Table of Contents

Introduction ................................................................................................... 1
Chronotype .......................................................................................... 1
Facial Affect Processing .......................................................................... 8
The Present Study ................................................................................ 11


Method ......................................................................................................... 12
Sample ............................................................................................... 12
Materials and Measures ......................................................................... 13
Design ................................................................................................ 18
Procedure ............................................................................................ 19
Data Analytic Strategy ........................................................................... 22


Results ......................................................................................................... 23
Chronotype ......................................................................................... 23
Hypothesis 1 ....................................................................................... 25
Preference .......................................................................................... 27
Hypothesis 2 ....................................................................................... 27
Emotion Recognition ............................................................................ 29


Discussion .................................................................................................... 30
Interpretation of Findings ..................................................................... 30
Contributions ...................................................................................... 36
Implications ........................................................................................ 38
Limitations and Future Directions ........................................................... 39
Summary and Conclusions .................................................................... 41


References ................................................................................................... 42


Tables ......................................................................................................... 46


Figures ........................................................................................................ 53


Appendices .................................................................................................. 61

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