Salience of emotional displays of danger and contagion in faces is enhanced when progesterone levels are raised



Conway, C A and Jones, B and Debruine, L and Welling, L and Lawsmith, M and Perrett, D I and Sharp, M A and Al-Dujaili, Emad A S (2007) Salience of emotional displays of danger and contagion in faces is enhanced when progesterone levels are raised. Hormones and Behavior, 51 (2). pp. 202-206. ISSN 0018506X

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Abstract

Findings from previous studies of hormone-mediated behavior in women suggest that raised progesterone level increases the probability of behaviors that will reduce the likelihood of disruption to fetal development during pregnancy (e.g. increased avoidance of sources of contagion). Here, we tested women's (N = 52) sensitivity to potential cues to nearby sources of contagion (disgusted facial expressions with averted gaze) and nearby physical threat (fearful facial expressions with averted gaze) at two points in the menstrual cycle differing in progesterone level. Women demonstrated a greater tendency to perceive fearful and disgusted expressions with averted gaze as more intense than those with direct gaze when their progesterone level was relatively high. By contrast, change in progesterone level was not associated with any change in perceptions of happy expressions with direct and averted gaze, indicating that our findings for disgusted and fearful expressions were not due to a general response bias. Collectively, our findings suggest women are more sensitive to facial cues signalling nearby contagion and physical threat when raised progesterone level prepares the body for pregnancy.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Emotion; Face perception; Salivary progesterone; Menstrual cycle
Divisions: School of Health Sciences > Dietetics, Nutrition and Biological Sciences
Date Deposited: 03 Feb 2010 10:04
Last Modified: 19 Mar 2014 12:56
URI: http://eresearch.qmu.ac.uk/id/eprint/1171

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