Is this happiness i see? Biases in the identification of emotional facial expressions in depression and social phobia

Jutta Joormann, Ian H. Gotlib

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

269 Scopus citations


The present study was designed to examine the operation of depression-specific biases in the identification or labeling of facial expression of emotions. Participants diagnosed with major depression and social phobia and control participants were presented with faces that expressed increasing degrees of emotional intensity, slowly changing from a neutral to a full-intensity happy, sad, or angry expression. The authors assessed individual differences in the intensity of facial expression of emotion that was required for the participants to accurately identify the emotion being expressed. The depressed participants required significantly greater intensity of emotion than did the social phobic and the control participants to correctly identify happy expressions and less intensity to identify sad than angry expressions. In contrast, social phobic participants needed less intensity to correctly identify the angry expressions than did the depressed and control participants and less intensity to identify angry than sad expressions. Implications of these results for interpersonal functioning in depression and social phobia are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)705-714
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Abnormal Psychology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Nov 1 2006



  • Anxiety
  • Bias
  • Depression
  • Emotion
  • Faces
  • Social phobia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Psychology(all)

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