• Josh Davis

Relationships between face identification and facial emotion perception ability and psychopathic ten

Becky Flack (BSc Psychology) Dr Josh P Davis (supervisor) School of Human Sciences, University of Greenwich Thanks very much to everyone who contributed to Becky Flack’s third year project in spring 2020 looking at the relationship between face identification and facial emotion perception ability and Type-I and Type-II psychopathic tendencies. This is a complex project – feeding into other research - and this manuscript is a very brief summary of the outcomes. Further research will be conducted in the future, and we will then probably be able to better describe the meaning in the results. Introduction There are large individual differences in the population in facial identity and facial emotion recognition abilities, although both skills correlate (e.g., Connolly, Young, & Lewis, 2018), while psychopathic traits can also be measured on a continuum, albeit most individuals provide low scores on scales (e.g. Coid, Yang, Ullrich, Roberts, & Hare, 2009). Those high in psychopathic traits may not perceive all facial emotions effectively (e.g. sadness, fear; Pera-Guardiola et al., 2016), while trait anxiety levels can also distinguish between those with Type 1 and Type 2 psychopathic traits. Type 1 psychopaths tend to be confident and low in anxiety, whereas Type 2 psychopaths may have low self-esteem, high anxiety and are socially withdrawn (Morrison & Gilbert, 2001). The aim of the current research was to examine the relationships between face identification and facial emotion perception ability and psychopathic tendencies in the population. Participants Ethical approval was provided by the Research Ethics Panel of the School of Human Sciences, University of Greenwich. An online sample (n = 419, male = 126, female = 299; White-Caucasian = 331, Asian = 10, mixed = 27; aged 18-74 years, M = 40.5 years) was recruited. Results As expected from previous research examining the relationship between face identity processing and face emotion perception, this study found that face memory test scores (Cambridge Face Memory Test: Extended: Russell et al., 2009), and simultaneous face matching test scores (Glasgow Face Matching Test: Burton et al., 2010) were significantly positively correlated with each other (r = .562, p < .01). Face memory also correlated with total emotion perception scores (Face Emotion Recognition Test: Gur et al, 2003) as well (r = .222, p < .01). The research also found some interesting effects that will form the subject of future studies. Scores on a psychopathic trait scale (Self-Report Psychopathy Scale 4th edition: Short Form: Paulhus, Neumann & Hare, 2014) were negatively, significantly but quite weakly correlated with facial recognition ability (r > -.127, p < .01), and the recognition of happiness on the Face Emotion Recognition Test (r = -.142, p < .01). Psychopathic traits were also positively but weakly correlated with the recognition of anger (r = .096, p < .05). However, no effects were significant when comparing those scoring high on Type I and Type II psychopathic traits. This may partly be a consequence of low participant numbers reaching threshold for inclusion in analyses (n = 32). Future research will aim to recruit additional participants. Overall, the results are inconclusive in terms of the relationship between psychopathic tendencies and face identification ability. There was a weak negative relationship between the two measures. However, further research is required to replicate these findings. References


Burton, M., White, D., & McNeill A. (2010). The Glasgow face matching test. Behavior Research Methods, 42, 286-291.

Coid, J., Yang, M., Ullrich, S., Roberts, A., & Hare, R. D. (2009). Prevalence and correlates of psychopathic traits in the household population of Great Britain. International Journal of Law and Psychiatry, 32(2), 65–73. doi: 10.1016/j.ijlp.2009.01.002

Connolly, H. L., Young, A. W., & Lewis, G. J. (2018). Recognition of facial expression and identity in part reflects a common ability, independent of general intelligence and visual short-term memory. Cognition and Emotion, 33(6), 1119–1128. doi: 10.1080/02699931.2018.1535425

Gur, R. E., Mcgrath, C., Chan, R. M., Schroeder, L., Turner, T., Turetsky, B. I., … Gur, R. C. (2002). An fMRI study of facial emotion processing in patients with schizophrenia. American Journal of Psychiatry, 159(12), 1992–1999. doi: 10.1176/appi.ajp.159.12.1992

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Morrison, D., & Gilbert, P. (2001). Social rank, shame and anger in primary and secondary psychopaths. The Journal of Forensic Psychiatry, 12(2), 330–356. doi: 10.1080/09585180110056867

Paulhus, D. L., Neumann, C. S., & Hare, R.D. (2014). Manual for the Self-Report Psychopathy scale. Toronto, Canada: Multi-Health Systems.

Pera-Guardiola, V., Contreras-Rodríguez, O., Batalla, I., Kosson, D., Menchón, J. M., Pifarré, J., et al. (2016). Brain Structural Correlates of Emotion Recognition in Psychopaths. Plos One, 11(5). doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0149807

Russell, R., Duchaine, B., & Nakayama, K. (2009). Super-recognisers, people with extraordinary face recognition ability. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 16, 252-257.

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