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The influence of emotional intensity on facial emotion recognition in disordered eating
journal contributionposted on 2012-12-17, 14:02 authored by Nathan Ridout, Deborah Wallis, Yasmin Autwal, Jenna Sellis
Significant facial emotion recognition (FER) deficits have been observed in participants exhibiting high levels of eating psychopathology. The current study aimed to determine if the pattern of FER deficits is influenced by intensity of facial emotion and to establish if eating psychopathology is associated with a specific pattern of emotion recognition errors that is independent of other psychopathological or personality factors. Eighty females, 40 high and 40 low scorers on the Eating Disorders Inventory (EDI) were presented with a series of faces, each featuring one of five emotional expressions at one of four intensities, and were asked to identify the emotion portrayed. Results revealed that, in comparison to Low EDI scorers, high scorers correctly recognised significantly fewer expressions, particularly of fear and anger. There was also a trend for this deficit to be more evident for subtle displays of emotion (50% intensity). Deficits in anger recognition were related specifically to scores on the body dissatisfaction subscale of the EDI. Error analyses revealed that, in comparison to Low EDI scorers, high scorers made significantly more and fear-as-anger errors. Also, a tendency to label anger expressions as sadness was related to body dissatisfaction. Current findings confirm FER deficits in subclinical eating psychopathology and extend these findings to subtle expressions of emotion. Furthermore, this is the first study to establish that these deficits are related to a specific pattern of recognition errors. Impaired FER could disrupt normal social functioning and might represent a risk factor for the development of more severe psychopathology.
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