Publication Date

Summer 2017

Advisor(s) - Committee Chair

Dr. Andrew Mienaltowski (Director), Dr. Amy Brausch, Dr. Lance Hahn

Degree Program

Department of Psychological Sciences

Degree Type

Master of Science


Previous research demonstrates that the age of an observer, the peripheral location of a face stimulus on a display, and the intensity of the emotion expressed by the face all play a role in emotion perception. Older individuals have more difficulty identifying emotion in faces, especially at lower expressive intensities. The purpose of the current study was to understand how younger and older adults’ abilities to detect emotion in facial stimuli presented in the periphery would be affected by the intensity of the emotional expressions and the distance that the expressions are presented away from the center of the display. The current study presented facial stimuli for a short duration to bypass reactionary attentional influences. More intense fearful and angry expressions were expected to be easier to classify for both younger and older adults than lower intensity expressions, but all expressions were expected to become more difficult to classify when presented further in the periphery. Older adults and younger adults displayed similar emotion detection for typical and extreme intensity angry expressions and for high intensity fearful expressions. However, older adults struggled to detect typical intensity fear, and this deficit grew with the angle of eccentricity from which the stimuli were presented from the center of the display. Possible explanations for these age differences are discussed.


Cognitive Psychology | Developmental Psychology | Psychology