Positivity bias in judging ingroup members' emotional expressions

Talya Lazerus, Zachary A. Ingbretsen, Ryan M. Stolier, Jonathan B. Freeman, Mina Cikara

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We investigated how group membership impacts valence judgments of ingroup and outgroup members' emotional expressions. In Experiment 1, participants, randomized into 2 novel, competitive groups, rated the valence of in- and outgroup members' facial expressions (e.g., fearful, happy, neutral) using a circumplex affect grid. Across all emotions, participants judged ingroup members' expressions as more positive than outgroup members' expressions. In Experiment 2, participants categorized fearful and happy expressions as being either positive or negative using a mouse-tracking paradigm. Participants exhibited the most direct trajectories toward the "positive" label for ingroup happy expressions and an initial attraction toward positive for ingroup expressions of fear, with outgroup emotion trajectories falling in between. Experiment 3 replicated Experiment 2 and demonstrated that the effect could not be accounted for by targets' gaze direction. Overall, people judged ingroup faces as more positive, regardless of emotion, both in deliberate and implicit judgments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1117-1125
Number of pages9
Issue number8
StatePublished - Dec 1 2016


  • Emotion
  • Groups
  • Judgment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Psychology


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