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Keywords:

  • emotion recognition;
  • facial affect;
  • negative symptom;
  • schizophrenia spectrum;
  • schizotypy

Abstract

Aim:  Deficits in facial affect recognition are well documented in schizophrenia, and have been associated with reduced social functioning and interpersonal difficulties. The aim of the present study was to test the possibility that facial affect recognition deficits represent an endophenotypic marker of schizophrenia liability by testing this capacity in individuals with the predisposition to symptoms of schizophrenia.

Methods:  Eight hundred and forty-three psychologically healthy participants completed the Schizotypal Personality Questionnaire of which 28 scoring in the upper 15% (high-schizotypy group) and 28 scoring in the lower 15% (low-schizotypy group) completed measures of facial affect identification, facial affect discrimination, facial identity recognition, and a measure of negative affect.

Results:  After controlling for group differences in negative affect and facial identity recognition, negative (but not positive or disorganized) aspects of schizotypy were found to be significantly associated with reduced facial affect discrimination and facial affect recognition accuracy, and in particular, difficulties with the identification of negative emotions.

Conclusions:  These results provide limited support for the potential trait status of facial affect recognition deficits in schizophrenia and schizophrenia spectrum disorders, and suggest that these deficits may be particularly associated with the predisposition to negative symptoms of schizophrenia.