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In Experimental brain research

This study compared how two virtual display conditions of human body expressions influenced explicit and implicit dimensions of emotion perception and response behavior in women and men. Two avatars displayed emotional interactions (angry, sad, affectionate, happy) in a "pictorial" condition depicting the emotional interactive partners on a screen within a virtual environment and a "visual" condition allowing participants to share space with the avatars, thereby enhancing co-presence and agency. Subsequently to stimulus presentation, explicit valence perception and response tendency (i.e. the explicit tendency to avoid or approach the situation) were assessed on rating scales. Implicit responses, i.e. postural and autonomic responses towards the observed interactions were measured by means of postural displacement and changes in skin conductance. Results showed that self-reported presence differed between pictorial and visual conditions, however, it was not correlated with skin conductance responses. Valence perception was only marginally influenced by the virtual condition and not at all by explicit response behavior. There were gender-mediated effects on postural response tendencies as well as gender differences in explicit response behavior but not in valence perception. Exploratory analyses revealed a link between valence perception and preferred behavioral response in women but not in men. We conclude that the display condition seems to influence automatic motivational tendencies but not higher level cognitive evaluations. Moreover, intragroup differences in explicit and implicit response behavior highlight the importance of individual factors beyond gender.

Bachmann Julia, Zabicki Adam, Gradl Stefan, Kurz Johannes, Munzert Jörn, Troje Nikolaus F, Krueger Britta


Co-presence, Emotion perception, Explicit response behavior, Gender differences, Implicit response behavior