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Cognit Ther Res. 2009;33(3):283-290.

Identification of emotionally ambiguous interpersonal stimuli among dysphoric and nondysphoric individuals.

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University of Texas at Austin.


This study examined whether dysphoria influences the identification of non-ambiguous and ambiguous facial expressions of emotion. Dysphoric and non-dysphoric college students viewed a series of human faces expressing sadness, happiness, anger, and fear that were morphed with each other to varying degrees. Dysphoric and non-dysphoric individuals identified prototypical emotional expressions similarly. However, when viewing ambiguous faces, dysphoric individuals were more likely to identify sadness when mixed with happiness than non-dysphoric individuals. A similar but less robust pattern was observed for facial expressions that combined fear and happiness. No group differences in emotion identification were observed for faces that combined sadness and anger or fear and anger. Dysphoria appears to enhance the identification of negative emotion in others when positive emotion is also present. This tendency may contribute to some of the interpersonal difficulties often experienced by dysphoric individuals.

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