Emotion Recognition in Blended Facial Expressions in Women with Anorexia Nervosa

Eur Eat Disord Rev. 2016 Jan;24(1):34-42. doi: 10.1002/erv.2403. Epub 2015 Sep 14.


People with anorexia nervosa (AN) have difficulties in the social domain, and problems in the ability to recognise emotions in people's faces may contribute to these difficulties. This study aimed to investigate emotion recognition in women with AN and healthy controls (HC), using pictures of faces portraying blended emotions at different levels of ambiguity, which resemble real-life expressions more closely than prototypical expressions used in past studies. Seventy-seven participants (35 AN; 42 HC) completed the emotion recognition task. Results indicated that participants with AN were less accurate than HC recognising expressions of disgust, when shown less ambiguously. There were no differences in the recognition of other emotions. Participants with AN also showed response bias towards anger. These findings suggest a generally preserved ability to recognise emotions in women with AN, with the exception of disgust recognition. They also support previous findings of bias towards anger in AN patients.

Keywords: Emotion recognition; anorexia nervosa; disgust; eating disorders; face.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anorexia Nervosa / psychology*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Emotions*
  • Facial Expression*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Photography
  • Young Adult