Cognition and Neurosciences
Theory of mind and attentional bias to facial emotional expressions: A preliminary study
Article first published online: 3 FEB 2010
© 2010 The Authors. Journal compilation © 2010 The Scandinavian Psychological Associations
Scandinavian Journal of Psychology
Volume 51, Issue 4, pages 285–289, August 2010
How to Cite
RIBEIRO, L. A. and FEARON, P. (2010), Theory of mind and attentional bias to facial emotional expressions: A preliminary study. Scandinavian Journal of Psychology, 51: 285–289. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-9450.2009.00797.x
- Issue published online: 11 JUL 2010
- Article first published online: 3 FEB 2010
- Received 18 June 2009, accepted 26 August 2009
- Theory of mind;
- attentional bias;
- facial emotional expressions
Ribeiro, L. A. & Fearon, P. (2010). Theory of mind and attentional bias to facial emotional expressions: A preliminary study. Scandinavian Journal of Psychology.
Theory of mind ability has been associated with performance in interpersonal interactions and has been found to influence aspects such as emotion recognition, social competence, and social anxiety. Being able to attribute mental states to others requires attention to subtle communication cues such as facial emotional expressions. Decoding and interpreting emotions expressed by the face, especially those with negative valence, are essential skills to successful social interaction. The current study explored the association between theory of mind skills and attentional bias to facial emotional expressions. According to the study hypothesis, individuals with poor theory of mind skills showed preferential attention to negative faces over both non-negative faces and neutral objects. Tentative explanations for the findings are offered emphasizing the potential adaptive role of vigilance for threat as a way of allocating a limited capacity to interpret others’ mental states to obtain as much information as possible about potential danger in the social environment.