Is empathy necessary to comprehend the emotional faces? The empathic effect on attentional mechanisms (eye movements), cortical correlates (N200 event-related potentials) and facial behaviour (electromyography) in face processing

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24 Citazioni (Scopus)

Abstract

The present research explored the effect of social empathy on processing emotional facial expressions. Previous evidence suggested a close relationship between emotional empathy and both the ability to detect facial emotions and the attentional mechanisms involved. A multi-measure approach was adopted: we investigated the association between trait empathy (Balanced Emotional Empathy Scale) and individuals' performance (response times; RTs), attentional mechanisms (eye movements; number and duration of fixations), correlates of cortical activation (event-related potential (ERP) N200 component), and facial responsiveness (facial zygomatic and corrugator activity). Trait empathy was found to affect face detection performance (reduced RTs), attentional processes (more scanning eye movements in specific areas of interest), ERP salience effect (increased N200 amplitude), and electromyographic activity (more facial responses). A second important result was the demonstration of strong, direct correlations among these measures. We suggest that empathy may function as a social facilitator of the processes underlying the detection of facial emotion, and a general “facial response effect” is proposed to explain these results. We assumed that empathy influences cognitive and the facial responsiveness, such that empathic individuals are more skilful in processing facial emotion.
Lingua originaleEnglish
pagine (da-a)210-224
Numero di pagine15
RivistaCOGNITION & EMOTION
Volume30
DOI
Stato di pubblicazionePubblicato - 2016

Keywords

  • EMG
  • Emotional face
  • Empathy
  • Eye movement
  • N200 ERP

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