Attention to emotional scenes including whole-body expressions in chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes).
Fumihiro Kano, Masaki Tomonaga
Real-life situations provide rich sets of cues that viewers evaluate in terms of their emotional significance. In this study, chimpanzees ( Pan troglodytes ) viewed a movie depicting naturalistic scenes involving the whole-body expressions of conspecifics to examine how nonhuman primates perceived the combination of these cues and how each cue contributed to the overall perception. Viewing time was measured while the chimpanzees watched movie clips without sound. Among scenes depicting neutrality, general excitement, agonism, and playfulness, chimpanzees looked longest at those depicting agonism. This bias toward agonistic scenes may indicate an attentional sensitivity toward threat/fear-related negative situations among chimpanzees. The effect disappeared when the images were scrambled, ruling out the possible effect of pixel-level properties on the results. In addition, the follow-up analyses revealed that the effect was independent of the presentation order and of the number of individuals in each clip. The manipulation of playback speeds had little effect on the looking times. The elimination of facial cues slightly influenced the looking times but did not change the strong bias toward agonistic scenes. This robustness of the main effect against image manipulations may indicate that the chimpanzees attended directly to the contextual information implied by the cues rather than to the cues per se (e.g., facial expressions, speed of movements)