In three studies, the authors show that unconscious expressive cites can lead to opposite evaluations, depending on the context in which they occur. In Study 1, brow (vs. cheek) tension reduced preferences in an easy judgment context but increased preferences in a difficult context. In Study 2, head shaking (vs. nodding) either increased or decreased prosocial affect depending on the context in which the judged character was presented. In Study 3, a subliminal smile (vs. frown) led to higher self-ratings of performance when paired with one's own actions but to lower self-ratings of performance when paired with a competitor's actions. Together, these results suggest that the meaning of unconscious expressive cues is not fixed.
- Bodily expressions
- Nonconscious processing