College of Science and Health Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award

Spring 6-11-2021

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Ralph Erber, PhD

Second Advisor

Verena Graupmann, PhD


The present study examined how individuals’ self-construal impacted their recognition accuracy and confidence in interpretation. Previous findings suggest that individuals with independent self-construal perceive the individual as a causal agent of emotion; however, individuals with interdependent self-construal believe that emotional expression is used to communicate with others. Hence, interdependent people perceive the situation as a causal agent of emotion expression. The present study assessed if self-construal influences people’s needs for contextual information when making emotional judgments. Participants (N = 242) were randomly assigned to either an independence-primed or interdependence-primed condition. Within the priming condition, participants additionally looked at 4 pictures of (1) happy faces, (2) fearful faces, or (3) neutral faces. Participants interpreted the facial expressions and rated their need for contextual information, pleasantness of expression, confidence in interpretation, and desired affiliation. Results indicated that interdependent participants reported more needs for contextual information and less confidence in interpretation than independent participants. Facial emotions also influenced participants’ needs for contextual information and confidence in interpretation. Neutral faces elicited the highest need for contextual information, and fearful faces elicited higher need for contextual information than happy faces. Happy faces elicited higher confidence than fearful and neutral faces. A Chi-square test reflected that there was a significant association between facial emotions and recognition accuracy. In addition, highly confident participants reported being more comfortable having further interactions than less confident participants. Participants’ accuracy of fearful faces was significantly correlated with their ratings of valence but not with their ratings of arousal. The present study offers a direct examination of the relation between self-construal and emotion understanding.

SLP Collection


Included in

Psychology Commons