Sensitivity to posed and genuine facial expressions of emotion in severe depression

Katie M. Douglas, Richard J. Porter, Lucy Johnston

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)


The aim of the current study was to investigate whether the ability to distinguish genuine from non-genuine (neutral or posed) facial expressions of emotion (happiness, sadness, fear and disgust) is impaired in depression, and whether improvement in this ability occurs with treatment response. Sixty-eight depressed inpatients and 50 matched healthy controls performed the Emotion Categorisation Task three times over 6 weeks. All participants showed some sensitivity to the meaningful differences between genuine and non-genuine expressions of emotion, with an increasing percentage of faces labelled as genuinely feeling the emotion from neutral to posed to genuine presentations. Depressed patients showed significantly less sensitivity in differentiating non-genuine from genuine expressions of sadness, compared with healthy controls. Performance on the Emotion Categorisation Task did not change over time in treatment responders compared with treatment non-responders. These findings have implications for understanding why depressed individuals may have difficulties in social interactions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)72-78
Number of pages7
JournalPsychiatry Research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 30 Mar 2012
Externally publishedYes


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