Behavioral and Neural Responses to Appearance-Behavior Congruity

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dc.contributor.advisor Gutchess, Angela
dc.contributor.author Cassidy, Brittany S.
dc.date.accessioned 2014-05-19T15:19:24Z
dc.date.available 2014-05-19T15:19:24Z
dc.date.issued 2014
dc.identifier.uri http://hdl.handle.net/10192/27074
dc.description.abstract Much research has explored appearance- and behavior-based impressions separately, but how cues are integrated into impressions is understudied. Incoming cues may not be congruent, allowing for the possibility that people may respond differently based on appearance-behavior congruity. Using trustworthy and untrustworthy faces and valenced behaviors, we studied behavioral and neural responses to appearance-behavior congruity. We also examined the potential effects of aging on the behavioral use of appearance-behavior congruity, as aging has been associated with increased stereotype use for cognitive shortcuts. This may be critical to study in context with appearance-behavior congruity, given the stereotyped personality overgeneralizations gleaned from facial appearances. In Experiment 1, we tested whether receiving two streams of valenced information (congruent or incongruent face-behavior pairs) versus one (neutral face, valenced behavior) influenced memory for behaviors. Younger and older adults remembered congruent better than incongruent pairs, but both were remembered better than pairs including neutral faces. In Experiment 2, we tested if the strength of several social judgments differed by appearance-behavior congruity. Behaviors were further classified as high or low arousal. Trustworthiness- but not dominance-related judgments were stronger for congruent over incongruent pairs. Older adults showed congruity biases for high and low arousal approach judgments, while younger adults had biases for high arousal approach, prosociality, and trustworthiness judgments. In Experiment 3, we used fMRI to detect brain regions whose activity supports processing incongruent over congruent appearance-behavior information. Behaviorally, both congruent and incongruent face-behavior pairs received stronger judgments than appearance-based pairs. Cortical midline engagement complemented this finding, with increased activity for congruent and incongruent pairs compared to appearance-based ones in which faces conveyed trustworthiness but behaviors were neutral. There was increased activity in dorsomedial prefrontal cortex extending into anterior cingulate cortex specific to viewing incongruent versus congruent pairs. Pre-response conflict and increased mentalizing are candidate processes to explain this effect. Taken together, this project provides a framework for how appearance-behavior congruity impacts social cognition and its neural underpinnings. Further, it evidences that subtle age differences may exist for the conditions under which these biases influence socio-cognitive decision-making.
dc.description.sponsorship Brandeis University, Graduate School of Arts and Sciences
dc.format.mimetype application/pdf
dc.language English
dc.language.iso eng
dc.publisher Brandeis University
dc.relation.ispartofseries Brandeis University Theses and Dissertations
dc.rights Copyright by Brittany Cassidy 2014
dc.subject impression formation
dc.subject appearance
dc.subject behavior
dc.subject congruity
dc.subject dorsomedial prefrontal cortex
dc.subject appearance
dc.subject behavior
dc.subject congruity
dc.subject dorsomedial prefrontal cortex
dc.title Behavioral and Neural Responses to Appearance-Behavior Congruity
dc.type Thesis
dc.contributor.department Department of Psychology
dc.degree.name PhD
dc.degree.level Doctoral
dc.degree.discipline Psychology
dc.degree.grantor Brandeis University, Graduate School of Arts and Sciences


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