Facial Expression Decoding Deficits
in Clinical Populations with Interpersonal
University of Louvain at Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium
Centre de recherche en défense sociale, Tournai, Belgium
Free University of Brussels, Belgium
The existentialist French philosopher, Jean-Paul Sartre is famous for his statement "Hell is the others." This pessimistic stance is actually an "a contrario" claim that the secret of happiness rests, at least partly, in the way we relate to others. At an even more basic level in our social species, interactive adjustment to and coordination with others are central to our survival. Successful interaction, adjustment, and coordination with others depend upon many emotional processes, and more specifically on emotional communication and coordination. A failure to adequately communicate one's emotional and motivational state and/or to accurately perceive the internal state of others is likely to result in interpersonal and personal problems. This notion is supported by theories and empirical data relating nonverbal social skills and more general social competence, or psychopathology (e.g., Perez & Riggio, 2003).
Indeed, several lines of research have demonstrated that the capacity to accurately decode facial expression is an acquired skill that develops