Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Evil eyebrows and pointy chin of a cartoon villain make our ‘threat’ instinct kick in

Date:
May 29, 2012
Source:
University of Warwick
Summary:
Why do the evil eyebrows and pointy chin of a cartoon villain make our 'threat' instinct kick in? Psychologists have found that a downward pointing triangle can be perceived to carry threat just like a negative face in a crowd.

Triangular-shaped face. Psychologists have found that a downward pointing triangle can be perceived to carry a threat.
Credit: Viktor Kuryan / Fotolia

New research from the University of Warwick could explain why the evil eyebrows and pointy chin of a cartoon villain make our 'threat' instinct kick in.

Related Articles


Psychologists have found that a downward pointing triangle can be perceived to carry threat just like a negative face in a crowd.

In a paper published in Emotion, a journal of the American Psychological Association, Dr Derrick Watson and Dr Elisabeth Blagrove have carried out a series of experiments with volunteers to find out if simple geometric shapes can convey positive or negative emotions.

Previous research by these scientists showed that people could pick out a negative face in a crowd more quickly than a positive or neutral face and also that it was difficult to ignore faces in general. The researchers carried out a series of experiments asking volunteers to respond to computer-generated images. They were shown positive, negative and neutral faces, and triangles facing upwards, downwards, inward and outward. This latest study shows that downward triangles are detected just as quickly as a negative face.

Dr Watson said: "We know from previous studies that simple geometric shapes are effective at capturing or guiding attention, particularly if these shapes carry the features present within negative or positive faces."

"Our study shows that downward pointing triangles in particular convey negative emotions and we can pick up on them quickly and perceive them as a threat."

Dr Blagrove added: "If we look at cartoon characters, the classic baddie will often be drawn with the evil eyebrows that come to a downward point in the middle. This could go some way to explain why we associate the downward pointing triangle with negative faces. These shapes correspond with our own facial features and we are unconsciously making that link."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Warwick. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Derrick G. Watson, Elisabeth Blagrove, Chesney Evans, Lucy Moore. Negative triangles: Simple geometric shapes convey emotional valence.. Emotion, 2012; 12 (1): 18 DOI: 10.1037/a0024495

Cite This Page:

University of Warwick. "Evil eyebrows and pointy chin of a cartoon villain make our ‘threat’ instinct kick in." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 29 May 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/05/120529074617.htm>.
University of Warwick. (2012, May 29). Evil eyebrows and pointy chin of a cartoon villain make our ‘threat’ instinct kick in. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/05/120529074617.htm
University of Warwick. "Evil eyebrows and pointy chin of a cartoon villain make our ‘threat’ instinct kick in." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/05/120529074617.htm (accessed November 22, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Mind & Brain News

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Could Your Genes Be The Reason You're Single?

Could Your Genes Be The Reason You're Single?

Newsy (Nov. 21, 2014) Researchers in Beijing discovered a gene called 5-HTA1, and carriers are reportedly 20 percent more likely to be single. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Milestone Birthdays Can Bring Existential Crisis, Study Says

Milestone Birthdays Can Bring Existential Crisis, Study Says

Newsy (Nov. 21, 2014) Researchers find that as people approach new decades in their lives they make bigger life decisions. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Your Complicated Job Might Keep Your Brain Young

Your Complicated Job Might Keep Your Brain Young

Newsy (Nov. 20, 2014) Researchers at the University of Edinburgh found the more complex your job is, the sharper your cognitive skills will likely be as you age. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
100-Year-Old Woman Sees Ocean for First Time

100-Year-Old Woman Sees Ocean for First Time

AP (Nov. 20, 2014) Ruby Holt spent most of her 100 years on a farm in rural Tennessee, picking cotton and raising four children. She saw the ocean for the first time thanks to her assisted living center and a group that grants wishes to the elderly. (Nov. 20) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins