ISSN 0439-755X
CN 11-1911/B

Acta Psychologica Sinica ›› 2014, Vol. 46 ›› Issue (8): 1094-1102.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1041.2014.01094

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The Moderating Effect of Perspective Taking in Implicit Emotional Processing

XIA Ruixue;ZHOU Aibao;LI Shifeng;XU Kepeng;REN Deyun;ZHU Jing   

  1. (1 School of Psychology, NorthWest Normal University, Lanzhou 730070, China) (2 State Key Laboratory of Cognitive Neuroscience and Learning, Beijing Normal University, Beijing 100875, China) (3 School of teacher education, Hexi University, Zhangye 734000, China) (4 Tianshui Health School, Tianshui 741000, China)
  • Received:2013-06-09 Published:2014-08-25 Online:2014-08-25
  • Contact: ZHOU Aibao


Perspective taking plays an clear role on processing emotional information. Existing studies have shown that emotional negativity bias and perspective taking’s roles as moderators in pain empathy could be observed in the controlled processing stage (370~420 ms). However, emotional negativity bias only explains the differences in processing information of different emotional valence. Due to researchers’ lack of concerns on perspective taking, the existing research could not explain how human beings understand their own emotions and other’s emotions differently. Meanwhile, the findings of pain empathy did not effectively explain people's unconscious processing of negative emotion because most of the existing research only employed explicit experimental tasks. The effect of perspective taking on the implicit emotion empathy is unclear. The aim of this research is to explore the moderating effect of perspective taking in implicit emotional processing. In the present research, a 2 (perspective taking: self-perspective, others-perspective) × 2 (emotional valence: negative, neutral) within-group design is employed. The task of the participants was to judge the shapes of the pictures with different emotional valance. Eighteen college students participated in the experiment with the data of 16 valid cases were achieved. The electroencephalogram (EEG) was continuously recorded from scalp electrodes using the 256-channel HydroCel Geodesic Sensor Net (Electrical Geodesics, Inc., Eugene, OR) while subjects were performing the tasks. Component analysis and spectral analysis are used to explore on negative emotion empathy in an implicit emotional processing task. The extracted mean amplitude and power data were then analyzed with repeated measures ANOVAs. The results showed that negative stimulus elicited an increased amplitude of N200 (180~220 ms) in the frontal and central electrodes and LPC (267~567 ms) in the central-parietal area under the self-perspective, but not the other-perspective condition. The result of phase-locked wavelet analysis showed that under the self-perspective condition, negative stimulus induced a signi?cantly higher power of the theta rhythm (4~8 Hz) in the time-window from stimulus presentation to 300ms. Evidence from component and wavelet analysis showed that a priming effect could be observed when the subjects were processing negative information under the self-perspective condition. However, other-perspective inhibited the processing of negative information. Both findings supported that perspective-taking played a robust moderating effect on implicit emotion processing. Moreover, this moderating effect appears during the early stage of information processing. The findings of the present study showed that human not only can identify risk information in the environment, but also can distinguish self from others by perspective-taking.

Key words: perspective-taking, negative emotion, moderating effect, EEG