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Facial beauty affects implicit and explicit learning of men and women differently

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posted on 2023-06-09, 01:51 authored by Eleni Ziori, Zoltan DienesZoltan Dienes
The present work explores the unconscious and/or conscious nature of learning attractive faces of same and opposite sex, that is, of stimuli that experimental and neuroimaging research has shown to be rewarding and thus highly motivating. To this end, we examined performance of men and women while classifying strings of average and attractive faces for grammaticality in the experimental task of artificial grammar learning (AGL), which reflects both conscious and unconscious processes. Subjective measures were used to assess participants’ conscious and unconscious knowledge. It was found that female attractiveness impaired performance in male participants. In particular, male participants demonstrated the lowest accuracy while classifying beautiful faces of women. Conversely, female attractiveness facilitated performance in female participants. The pattern was similar for conscious and unconscious knowledge. Presumably, objects with high incentive salience, as are beautiful faces, captured resources, which were used in task relevant versus task irrelevant ways by women versus men. The present findings shed light on the relation of conscious and unconscious processing with affective and reward-related stimuli, as well as on gender differences underlying this relation.


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Frontiers in Psychology




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