Eye spy?: emotion recognition and detection in psychopathy

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Psychopathy is a constellation of personality traits including callousness, manipulativeness, social dominance, and antisocial behavior. Psychopathy is associated with deficits in the recognition of emotions in others, which along with poor emotional responsivity may facilitate in the perpetration of criminal or immoral treatment of others. Emotional features detection is the orientation of visual attention to the emotionally salient aspects of an image that convey the emotion expressed. Thus, emotional features detection is necessary to accurately identify the emotions in others and subsequently for social learning abilities. Previous research on emotional features detection related to emotion recognition has focused mainly on children and adolescents with callous unemotional traits. The current study examined emotion recognition errors in two adult samples and features detection in a sample of university students. Participants exhibiting affective-interpersonal traits of psychopathy tended to have more difficulty recognizing fearful emotions in others and spent less time looking at the emotionally salient aspects of facial images than individuals higher on disinhibition. The garnered information will be useful in elaborating upon the fundamental understanding of psychopathic personalities, and it will potentially guide treatment approaches.

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