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  • 1 University of Tsukuba
  • 2 Tokyo Seitoku University
Open access

We examined whether conscious and unconscious processes are differentially sensitive to different kinds of information. Using an evaluative conditioning procedure, participants were repeatedly presented with photographs of women with happy or angry expressions paired with the words “happy” or “angry.” Half of participants (the unconscious condition) observed the pairings only subliminally. The other half (the conscious condition) observed the pairings supraliminally. Subsequently, all participants rated the women in the photographs with expressionless faces. Results showed that when pairings were presented subliminally (unconscious), participants rated the women more in accordance with the emotional valence of their previous facial expressions. On the other hand, when pairings were presented supraliminally (conscious), participants rated the women more in accordance with the emotional valence of the paired words. This indicates that while conscious processes are more sensitive to language information, unconscious processes are more sensitive to facial expression information. These findings may reflect the evolutionary history of human conscious and unconscious processing.

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