Estudos de Psicologia (Natal)
On-line version ISSN 1678-4669
ALVES, Nelson Torro; RODRIGUES, Marcelli Roberto; SOUZA, Ingrid Brasilino Montenegro Bento de and SOUSA, João Paulo Machado de. Social snxiety and attribution of affect to neutral faces. Estud. psicol. (Natal) [online]. 2012, vol.17, n.1, pp.129-134. ISSN 1678-4669. http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/S1413-294X2012000100016.
Previous research has revealed facial emotion recognition biases and distinctive patterns of brain activation in social anxiety disorder. We investigated the attribution of emotion to neutral facial displays in 22 subjects with social anxiety and 20 healthy controls. Using a forced choice paradigm, participants labeled neutral faces as happy, fearful, angry or sad. The most frequent emotional labels attributed by males and females to neutral faces were anger and sadness, respectively. These findings are discussed according to the notion that the attribution of anger by men may be associated with the male tendency to detect hostile environmental signs, whereas the increased attribution of sadness by females might be associated with facilitated identification of negative affect. The results suggest that social anxiety disorder differentially affects males and females and has important implications concerning the use of the neutral face as a baseline or control condition in behavioral neuroscience.
Keywords : social anxiety disorder; neutral faces; facial expressions.