School of Health in Social Science

Attending to faces: Improving social and emotional skills

This study aims to investigate the effect of promoting facial mimicry during a facial-emotion-recognition task.

People tend to mimic facial expressions when interacting with others. The degree of facial mimicry however varies between individuals and is limited in people with callous unemotional (CU) traits, which might explain empathy deficits found in individuals with these traits. 

This study aims to investigate the effect of promoting facial mimicry during a facial-emotion-recognition task. The recognition of social affective cues has been found to facilitate empathy so the current study aims to examine if these impairments are associated with CU traits and if these impairments can be improved through training. Participants’ reaction times and responses on the task will be recorded as well as their facial expressions while performing the task.

Correctly recognizing social cues including facial expressions is imperative in interpersonal interactions. Findings from this study will have an impact on improving the interactions and social skills of individuals with callous unemotional traits.

If results suggest that the instruction to mimic provides an advantage in emotion recognition these results could be used to develop an intervention to improve social communication and empathy in at risk populations, individuals with Callous unemotional traits.

Individuals with these problems have considerable costs to society because they are associated with criminality and greater incarceration rates during adulthood, showing a more severe and stable antisocial profile with worse prognosis.