Main Article Content
In social interactions an individual’s perception of others’ facial expressions is usually influenced by the evaluation of personality traits, especially negative evaluations. We integrated social-appraisal contexts with self- and mother-referential processing in a Chinese cultural context to examine the effect of context, including different potencies and reference types, on the individual’s emotional perceptual processes of others’ facial expressions. We found that neutral faces presented in positive/negative self-referential and mother-referential contexts were perceived as more positive/more negative than were neutral faces presented in other-referential contexts. Event-related potential (ERP) data showed that self-referential and mother-referential negative contexts induced more pronounced early posterior negativity and late positive potential components than did other-referential contexts. However, these same contexts did not significantly affect the results of the positive ERP component that occurs approximately 100 ms after stimulus presentation (P1) and the negative deflection in wave amplitude that occurs around 170 ms after the presentation of a face (N170). These results suggest that social-behavioral appraisals related to self and mother can influence the individual’s perception of an appraiser’s facial emotions even when there is no personality trait appraisal.