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22-04-2022

Facial Affect Recognition and Psychopathy: A Signal Detection Theory Perspective

Auteurs: Reid N. Faith, Steve A. Miller, David S. Kosson

Gepubliceerd in: Journal of Psychopathology and Behavioral Assessment | Uitgave 3/2022

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Abstract

Though emotional processing deficits are often conceptualized as a core feature of psychopathy, the common assessment of these deficits using the percentage correct (or hit rate) on affect recognition tasks may not provide a full or accurate picture of facial affect recognition in psychopathic individuals. Signal detection theory (SDT) provides a more informative statistical approach by providing independent measures of perceptual sensitivity (d’) and willingness to report perceiving a signal or response criterion (c). The current study employed signal detection methods to test the predictions of the integrated emotion systems and hostile attribution bias perspectives, two theoretical perspectives that make specific predictions regarding facial affect recognition. These perspectives were tested in a sample of 280 adult male incarcerated offenders who were assessed for psychopathy using the Psychopathy Checklist-Revised and who completed a novel test of facial affect recognition presenting 324 digital morphs of faces reflecting systematic combinations of pixels from neutral and affective face images (displaying six different types of emotion) as expressed by four different actors. The findings were generally not consistent with either of these perspectives. Psychopathy was negatively associated with d` for anger. Results also indicated an effect of psychopathy on response criterion for fear and effects of psychopathy on response criterion for anger and surprise that were evident only for some actors. The implications of these findings are considered through the lenses of several theoretical perspectives, and theoretical and methodological limitations of the current study are considered.
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1
In addition to studies of facial affect recognition, there is also research studying vocal affect recognition, cognitive empathy, physiological response to emotional stimuli, and vocal and facial affect recognition in children or adults with callous/unemotional or psychopathic traits. Similarly mixed findings regarding emotion recognition deficits have been found in these kinds of paradigms (e.g., Blair et al., 2005; Hastings et al., 2008; Brook & Kosson, 2013).
 
2
Given that the IES perspective predicts specific deficits only in fear, sadness, and happiness recognition, it predicts no differences in or c as a function of psychopathy for disgust or surprise. The HAB perspective predicts no difference in c as a function of psychopathy for surprise or disgust. Although it may seem intuitive that a more liberal response criterion for perceiving disgust could also reflect a hostile or aggressive interpretation of a cue, increased self-reported sensitivity to disgust has been found to be associated with lower rates of aggression in five undergraduate samples, which could be indicative of a higher d` or a more liberal response criterion (Pond et al., 2012). Though c is not a measure of sensitivity, a lowered response criterion for disgust would theoretically result in similarly lowered rates of aggression. Even so, we also examined the possibility of a reduced response criterion for disgust leading to a greater tendency for psychopathic offenders to identify ambiguous facial expression as expressing disgust.
 
3
It should be noted that the deficit in vocal affect recognition reported by Bagley et al. (2009) was based on data collected at the same correctional facility where the data for the current study were collected, although the samples were largely independent due to data collection during different time periods.
 
4
Actor effects not involving psychopathy were also observed. These effects demonstrate that affect recognition performance depends, in some cases, on the individual in whom affect is being observed. However, given that these effects are not related to the central focus of the paper, they are discussed in supplementary material.
 
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Metagegevens
Titel
Facial Affect Recognition and Psychopathy: A Signal Detection Theory Perspective
Auteurs
Reid N. Faith
Steve A. Miller
David S. Kosson
Publicatiedatum
22-04-2022
Uitgeverij
Springer US
Gepubliceerd in
Journal of Psychopathology and Behavioral Assessment / Uitgave 3/2022
Print ISSN: 0882-2689
Elektronisch ISSN: 1573-3505
DOI
https://doi.org/10.1007/s10862-022-09969-5

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