“Anonymity and iconography in contemporary protest culture”
It will serve well for philosophers of photography and other students of visual culture to read this article.
Research in visual cognition and social psychology has demonstrated that faces displaying extreme emotional states, particularly anger and anxiety, are detected far more quickly than those bearing happy or neutral expressions. This anger–superiority hypothesis was sustained through various experiments conducted by psychologists in the 1980s. Test subjects were asked to identify ‘emotionally discrepant faces embedded in crowds’, and it was observed that people with threatening facial expressions stood out most. Resorting to the unconscious mind – or, perhaps more accurately, to human instinct – researchers concluded that these perceptions arose as a ‘result of a pre-attentive, parallel search for signals of direct threat’