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The role of the human face in social interactions: Basic mechanisms and neurobiological underpinnings of social cognition

English title The role of the human face in social interactions: Basic mechanisms and neurobiological underpinnings of social cognition
Applicant Lobmaier Janek
Number 163758
Funding scheme SNSF Professorships
Research institution Institut für Psychologie Universität Bern
Institution of higher education University of Berne - BE
Main discipline Psychology
Start/End 01.07.2016 - 30.04.2018
Approved amount 131'608.00
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All Disciplines (2)

Discipline
Psychology
Ethology

Keywords (6)

physiology; endocrinology; facial attractiveness; evolutionary psychology; emotion; pro-social behaviour

Lay Summary (German)

Lead
Für soziale Wesen, wie wir Menschen es sind, bilden soziale Interaktionen einen wesentlichen Bestandteil unseres Alltags. Dieses Projekt befasst sich mit den biologischen, psychologischen und kognitiven Grundlagen der sozialen Interaktion. Insbesondere befassen wir uns mit der Rolle des Gesichts im sozialen Kontext.
Lay summary

Das menschliche Gesicht offenbart viel Information, die für soziale Interaktionen relevant ist. Zum Beispiel können wir auf Grund des Gesichts einschätzen, wie attraktiv jemand ist, wir können das ungefähre Alter der Person schätzen, und natürlich sagt uns der emotionale Ausdruck etwas über den Gemütszustand der Person. Ein Schwerpunkt unserer Forschung ist die Erforschung von endokrinologischen und psychophysiologischen Einflüssen auf die kognitiven Prozesse der Gesichtswahrnehmung, der sozialen Wahrnehmung und des Sozialverhaltens. Vergangene Studien haben einen bemerkenswerten Zusammenhang zwischen Hormonen und dem (sozialen) Verhalten aufgezeigt. Dieses Projekt untersucht den Einflusses von Sexual Hormonen auf  die Wahrnehmung von sozial relevanter Information in Gesichtern, wie zum Beispiel Attraktivität, emotionalem Ausdruck und Blickrichtung.

Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 07.06.2016

Responsible applicant and co-applicants

Employees

Publications

Publication
Reactive aggression tracks within-participant changes in women's salivary testosterone
Probst Fabian, Golle Jessika, Lory Vanda, Lobmaier Janek S. (2018), Reactive aggression tracks within-participant changes in women's salivary testosterone, in Aggressive Behavior, 44(4), 362-371.
Accumulating evidence suggests that men do not find body odours of human leucocyte antigen-dissimilar women more attractive
Lobmaier Janek S., Fischbacher Urs, Probst Fabian, Wirthmüller Urs, Knoch Daria (2018), Accumulating evidence suggests that men do not find body odours of human leucocyte antigen-dissimilar women more attractive, in Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 285(1878), 20180566-20180566.
Men's preferences for women's body odours are not associated with human leucocyte antigen
Probst Fabian, Fischbacher Urs, Lobmaier Janek S., Wirthmüller Urs, Knoch Daria (2017), Men's preferences for women's body odours are not associated with human leucocyte antigen, in Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 284(1864), 20171830-20171830.
Do women tend while men fight or flee? Differential emotive reactions of stressed men and women while viewing newborn infants
Probst Fabian, Meng-Hentschel Juliane, Golle Jessika, Stucki Sylvia, Akyildiz-Kunz Carola, Lobmaier Janek S. (2017), Do women tend while men fight or flee? Differential emotive reactions of stressed men and women while viewing newborn infants, in Psychoneuroendocrinology, 75, 213-221.
Spatial but not oculomotor information biases perceptual memory. Evidence from face perception and cognitive modeling
Wantz Andrea-Laura, Lobmaier Janek S., Mast Fred W., Senn Walter (2017), Spatial but not oculomotor information biases perceptual memory. Evidence from face perception and cognitive modeling, in Cognitive Science, 41(6), 1533-1554.

Collaboration

Group / person Country
Types of collaboration
UPD-Universitätsklinik und Poliklinik für Psychiatrie, Bern Switzerland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
- Research Infrastructure
Biologische und Differentielle Psychologie, Universität Freiburg i. Br. Germany (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
Charles University Prague Czech Republic (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
University of Stirling Great Britain and Northern Ireland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
University of Potsdam Germany (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
- Research Infrastructure
Institut für Psychologie, Uni Bern Switzerland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
- Research Infrastructure
Department of General Psychology and Cognitive Neuroscience, University of Jena Germany (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
- Research Infrastructure
- Exchange of personnel
Perception lab, University of St Andrews Great Britain and Northern Ireland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
- Research Infrastructure

Scientific events

Active participation

Title Type of contribution Title of article or contribution Date Place Persons involved
Etologiky Seminar Individual talk Facing Cuteness: Baby schema triggers caretaking orientation towards newborn infants 07.12.2016 Prague, Czech Republic Lobmaier Janek;
IAEA Talk given at a conference Shifts in women’s facial attractiveness across the menstrual cycle: A critical evaluation of the peri-ovulation paradigm 28.08.2016 Vienna, Austria Lobmaier Janek;


Associated projects

Number Title Start Funding scheme
139072 The role of the human face in social interactions: Basic mechanisms and neurobiological underpinnings of social cognition 01.07.2012 SNSF Professorships

Abstract

For social animals, such as we are, social interactions form an integral part of our everyday life. Recent innovative studies have revealed a striking correlation between the availability of hormones in the central nervous system and social behaviour. For example, there is evidence that in humans the neuropeptide oxytocin is associated with an enhanced ability to interact socially (for a review see Heinrichs, von Dawans, & Domes, 2009). Other hormones which have been reported to modulate social cognition include gonadal steroids such as estradiol (the predominant estrogen during reproductive years of a woman), progesterone and testosterone (for a review see Bos, Panksepp, Bluthe, & van Honk, 2012). A natural way to investigate influences of intra-individual variation of gonadal steroids on social cognition and behaviour is to study naturally cycling women during different menstrual cycle phases. A further way is to assess hormone levels of individuals and compare the hormone-behaviour associations between individuals. A third method to study hormonal influences on social cognition and behaviour is by comparing women who use hormonal contraception with naturally cycling women. Women using hormonal contraception have artificially altered levels of estradiol and progesterone, which may affect their cognition of the social world. For example, in one of our recent studies we found that women using the “pill” outperformed naturally cycling women in an infant cuteness discrimination task (Sprengelmeyer, et al., 2009). The aim of my project is to test how hormones affect social cognition and social behaviour by testing women at different time points across the menstrual cycle and by comparing different individuals with each other. The project investigates social cognition in three contexts. In Part A, I plan to investigate the role of gonadal steroids on the perception and interpretation of socially relevant aspects of faces, such as facial attractiveness. Part B is concerned with cyclic variations in affiliation motivation. In Part C we will investigate whether hormonal changes as they occur across the menstrual cycle modulate aspects of vocal behaviour. We will investigate the influence of the menstrual cycle on the physical qualities of women’s own voices, depending on the sex and attractiveness of her interaction partner. In all studies involving the menstrual cycle, we will determine ovulation by means of ovulation tests and the cycle phases will be confirmed by means of hormone assays. Taken together, the primary scientific aim of this research is to characterize the inter-relationship between the psychological, physiological and endocrinological state of individuals and the interpretation of socially relevant stimuli and situations.
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