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An examination of autonomic and facial responses to prototypical facial emotion expressions in psychopathy

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posted on 2022-09-01, 01:26 authored by P Deming, Hedwig EisenbarthHedwig Eisenbarth, O Rodrik, SS Weaver, KA Kiehl, M Koenigs
Meta-analyses have found that people high in psychopathy categorize (or "recognize") others' prototypical facial emotion expressions with reduced accuracy. However, these have been contested with remaining questions regarding the strength, specificity, and mechanisms of this ability in psychopathy. In addition, few studies have tested holistically whether psychopathy is related to reduced facial mimicry or autonomic arousal in response to others' dynamic facial expressions. Therefore, the current study presented 6 s videos of a target person making prototypical emotion expressions (anger, fear, disgust, sadness, joy, and neutral) to N = 88 incarcerated adult males while recording facial electromyography, skin conductance response (SCR), and heart rate. Participants identified the emotion category and rated the valence and intensity of the target person's emotion. Psychopathy was assessed via the Psychopathy Checklist-Revised (PCL-R). We predicted that overall PCLR scores and scores for the interpersonal/affective traits, in particular, would be related to reduced emotion categorization accuracy, valence ratings, intensity ratings, facial mimicry, SCR amplitude, and cardiac deceleration in response to the prototypical facial emotion expressions. In contrast to our hypotheses, PCL-R scores were unrelated to emotion categorization accuracy, valence ratings, and intensity ratings. Stimuli failed to elicit facial mimicry from the full sample, which does not allow drawing conclusions about the relationship between psychopathy and facial mimicry. However, participants displayed general autonomic arousal responses, but not to prototypical emotion expressions per se. PCL-R scores were also unrelated to SCR and cardiac deceleration. These findings failed to identify aberrant behavioral and physiological responses to prototypical facial emotion expressions in relation to psychopathy.

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Preferred citation

Deming, P., Eisenbarth, H., Rodrik, O., Weaver, S. S., Kiehl, K. A. & Koenigs, M. (2022). An examination of autonomic and facial responses to prototypical facial emotion expressions in psychopathy. PLoS ONE, 17(7 July), e0270713-e0270713. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0270713

Journal title

PLoS ONE

Volume

17

Issue

7 July

Publication date

2022-07-01

Pagination

e0270713-e0270713

Publisher

Public Library of Science (PLoS)

Publication status

Published

Online publication date

2022-07-01

ISSN

1932-6203

eISSN

1932-6203

Language

en

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