Academic journal article Current Research in Psychology

The Role of Perspective-Taking on Ability to Recognize Fear

Academic journal article Current Research in Psychology

The Role of Perspective-Taking on Ability to Recognize Fear

Article excerpt

Introduction

Facial emotion recognition, the ability to accurately identify and interpret facial expressions emerges early in life and is crucial for effective social interaction. Impaired facial emotion recognition has been observed in neurological and psychiatric disorders (Donno et al., 2010). Specifically, impaired ability to detect another person's fear, a distressing emotion aroused by threat of impending or possible danger, has been linked to many types of psychopathology (Gross and Jazaieri, 2014). However, the association between ability to recognize facial expressions and social functioning has not been well studied in healthy, non-psychiatric sample. Outside of psychopathology, it is important to see if and how fear recognition differs from recognition of other emotions in non-clinical individuals. Although the mechanisms through which impoverished fear detection might cause interpersonal difficulties are not well understood, one potential process is impaired perspective-taking, an ability to consider the world from other viewpoints and "allows an individual to anticipate the behavior and reactions of others" (Davis, 1983, p. 115). Accuracy of facial expression recognition may be a primary determinant of observed individual differences in processes such as interpersonal insight and perspective-taking. Thus, the goal of the current study was to examine the association between perspective-taking and emotion recognition in a well characterized, non-clinical adult sample.

The development of emotion recognition appears to be important for normative interpersonal functioning, as the ability to recognize and label emotion expressions predicts positive social interactions, as well as academic competence in young children (Izard et al., 2001). Conversely, difficulties with emotion recognition have been implicated in many forms of psychopathology (Gross and Jazaieri, 2014) including early-onset conduct disorder (Fairchild et al., 2009), depression (Dalili et al., 2014), Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD; Uljarevic and Hamilton, 2013) and psychopathic traits (Dadds et al., 2008). Although it is possible that an individual can have broadly impaired recognition across a range of emotions, there is considerable evidence that impairment in recognition of specific emotions, fear in particular, is linked to psychopathology.

Collectively, extant research suggests that impaired fear recognition may be a stronger predictor of psychopathology than impairment in the recognition of other emotions (Demirel et al., 2014; Montagne et al., 2005). Impaired recognition of fear has been found to be associated with criminal behaviors among people with schizophrenia (Weiss et al., 2006) and there is a robust association between inability to perceive fear via facial cues, antisocial behavior and a lack of empathy (Blair et al., 2001; Montagne et al., 2005; Stevens et al., 2001). Impairment in the ability to perceive fear has also been documented in bipolar disorder (Demirel et al., 2014), ASD (Humphreys et al., 2007) and ADHD (Aspan et al., 2014). Collectively, impairment in fear recognition has been observed across multiple disorders that share difficulties in social interaction. In light of the social and interpersonal difficulties that may result from impaired fear recognition (Corden et al., 2008; Skuse, 2003), an improved understanding of this process may facilitate the development of new intervention concepts that are applicable across a range of psychiatric disorders characterized by social disability. One such potential mechanism is perspective-taking, a multi-faceted construct often impaired across disorders. Both perspective-taking and facial emotion recognition are necessary aspects for successful social interactions.

Perspective-taking refers to the ability to perceive, appreciate and consider the perspective, or point of view, of another individual. It has long been recognized as a critical aspect for successful social interaction. …

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