Analyzing visual attention and facial affect in response to adult attachment stimuli
LE3 .A278 2020
Bachelor of Science
This study seeks to explore how activating the attachment system leads to changes in implicit behavioral response that can be detected using modern biometric measures. The present study examined eye-tracking and facial affect coding responses to attachment-related stimuli from the Adult Attachment Projective Test (AAP). Participants (N=54) also completed questionnaires to determine their unique level of attachment anxiety and avoidance as well as depressive symptoms. Biometrics collected were average fixation duration, fixation rate per minute, average pupil dilation, blink rate (EBR), average blink duration, average distance from the screen, average time spent looking at faces, average revisits to faces, facial expression response (joy, disgust, sadness, anger, contempt, surprise, fear) and facial expression valence (positive, negative). Most of the biometric measures showed no association with scores of attachment measures and depression. However, there was a significant negative correlation between EBR and attachment avoidance: participants who scored higher on avoidance blinked less when looking at the attachment stimuli. Previous research suggests two possible interpretations: 1) that EBR can be a proxy for dopamine levels in the brain (Jongkees & Colzato, 2016) and so avoidant participants find the AAP pictures less rewarding, and 2) that EBR is reduced during high cognitive load, and the avoidant participants have a higher cognitive load because they are engaged in repressing their emotional expression while also creating their narratives. These findings suggest that stand-off measures of implicit response can provide information about attachment style, and that EBR is a biometric measure that warrants further study.
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