Difficulties in facial emotion recognition: Taking psychopathic and alexithymic traits into account

Melina Nicole Kyranides*, Demetris Christofides, Melis Çetin

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Background: Alexithymic and psychopathic traits are closely associated, but distinct constructs. Both have been associated with facial emotion processing deficits reflecting empathy deficits, however the underlying mechanism contributing to these deficits is not well-understood.
Methods: This study investigated facial emotion recognition performance in a non-clinical sample (N = 110) including both male and female participants, with varying levels of psychopathic and alexithymic traits. Facial emotion recognition was assessed using a computerized task that presented different expressions depicting five emotional states (pain, fear, sadness, anger, happiness) and neutral expressions.
Results: Results suggest that the high psychopathic traits group reported lower accuracy compared to the low psychopathic traits group, indicating a more generalized deficit in facial affect recognition, across all emotions. The alexithymic groups (high vs low) on the other hand did not differ in their performance on the task for any of the emotions presented.
Conclusions: These findings add to the current body of research regarding face processing categorization deficits in relation to psychopathic and alexithymic traits and can inform prevention and intervention efforts that aim to facilitate facial emotion recognition in individuals with these personality traits.
Original languageEnglish
Article number239
Pages (from-to)1-9
Number of pages9
JournalBMC Psychology
Publication statusPublished - 27 Oct 2022

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • psychopathic traits
  • alexithymic traits
  • facial emotion recognition
  • facial expressions


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