Affective Misattribution in Romance

Abstract

We spend money, eat food, and make social judgments based on our affective reactions, even when we are unaware of those reactions. Using continuous flash suppression (CFS), we attempted to replicate the finding that affective information is extracted from unseen images is misattributed to consciously visible images (Anderson, Siegel, White & Barrett, in press). In the present experiment, we explored an extension of this work by examining affective misattribution in the domain of mate selection. Participants viewed profiles of potential romantic partners in a hypothetical online dating scenario. For each profile, participants reported how interested they would be in going on a date with the person, and the amount of money they would likely spend on the date. Participants also rated attractiveness and gave an overall rating of the potential dating partner. We examined the responses to these questions when the profiles were paired with suppressed smiling, scowling, or neutral faces. We hypothesized that an unseen affective face would influence these ratings of a potential date. Contrary to our hypothesis, and previous findings, we found no evidence of affective misattribution in this study. Reasons for this inconsistency and follow up studies will be discussed.