Action- and attention-related decisions under social threat
Evolutionary theoretical accounts suggest that emotional displays serve a communicative function, implying 1) that emotional signals have co-evolved with recipient's decoding skills and behavioral responses, 2) that the recipient's behavioral response should reflect the social function of the perceived expression, and 3) the perceived possibilities for action offered by emotional displays are contingent on recipient's states and capabilities. We experimentally address these assumptions and reveal 1) that the neural sensitivity to threat-signaling emotions is enhanced in both ventral face-selective cortices and in action preparation motor cortices 200 ms following face presentation (El Zein et al. 2015); 2) that there is a selective impact of threat-signaling emotions on the recipient's action and attention decisions: anger elicits avoidance behaviors while fear prompts affiliative approach tendencies (Vilarem et al. under review), and finally 3) that the processing of threat-signaling emotions is influenced by recipient's traits and states. Altogether, these results indicate that emotional displays promote the elaboration of adapted perceptual and action-related decisions.