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Keywords:

  • facial affect;
  • emotional prosody;
  • empathy;
  • anorexia nervosa

Abstract

Objective

The aim of this study was to examine emotional recognition (prosodic and visual) in anorexia nervosa.

Methods

Thirty people with anorexia nervosa and a comparison group of 30 healthy women were tested with facial and vocal stimuli that expressed specific emotions and they were given a neutral task.

Results

The group of women with anorexia nervosa was poor at emotional recognition. This was most marked for negative emotions in faces and for both positive and negative emotions in voices. This decreased ability to recognize negative affect in faces remained even after adjustment for confounding variables such as age, education, and depression.

Discussion

People with anorexia nervosa have difficulty recognizing emotions from facial expression and vocal tone. This may contribute to poor interpersonal communication and a lack of empathy, both of which are associated with anorexia nervosa patients. © 2003 by Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Int J Eat Disord 35: 42–47, 2004.