Conscious awareness is necessary for affective faces to influence social judgments.

Academic Article


  • A growing body of research claims that stimuli presented outside conscious awareness can influence affect, speech perception, decision-making, eating behavior, and social judgments. However, research has shown that conscious awareness is a continuous phenomenon. Using a continuous flash suppression (CFS) paradigm to suppress awareness of affective faces (smiling and scowling), we demonstrate that some awareness of suppressed stimuli is required for the stimuli to influence social judgments. We discovered this using a rigorous within-participants psychophysics method that allowed us to assess awareness at very low levels, which is difficult using traditional methods. Our findings place boundary conditions on claims (made previously by us and others) that stimuli presented completely outside conscious awareness influence judgments. This work contributes to the literature highlighting the need to study conscious awareness as a continuous phenomenon and provides a framework for researchers to ask and answer questions regarding conscious awareness and its relation to judgment and behavior.
  • Authors

  • Kleckner, Ian R
  • Anderson, Eric C
  • Betz, Nicole J
  • Wormwood, Jolie
  • Eskew, Rhea T
  • Barrett, Lisa Feldman
  • Status

    Publication Date

  • November 2018
  • Has Subject Area


  • Consciousness
  • Emotions
  • Individual Differences
  • Perception
  • Social Perception
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Start Page

  • 181
  • End Page

  • 187
  • Volume

  • 79
  • Issue

  • Emotion 12 6 2012