Incongruent gestures slow the processing of facial expressions in university students with social anxiety

Recent studies have investigated nonverbal emotional information processing in individuals with high social anxiety (HSA). However, most of these studies have focused on facial expressions, with limited research on gesture or combined face-gesture processing. This study explored the interaction between gestures and facial expressions in HSA and low social anxiety (LSA) individuals. University students participated, divided into HSA and LSA groups based on Liebowitz Social Anxiety Scale scores. Using a multifactor mixed design, videos with single face or gesture cues and combined face-gesture cues were used. The study found that gestures were recognized faster than faces, particularly negative gestures, and congruent emotional valence facilitated recognition. Incongruent gestures had a stronger impact on facial expression processing, suggesting gesture-derived environmental cues influenced facial emotion processing. These findings emphasize the role of gestures in emotional processing and provide insights into biases in emotional information interpretation in individuals with HSA.

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