An examination of autonomic and facial responses to prototypical facial emotion.pdf (398.75 kB)
An examination of autonomic and facial responses to prototypical facial emotion expressions in psychopathy
journal contributionposted 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.