Mobile facial affect recognition and real-time social experiences in serious mental illness

Schizophr Res Cogn. 2022 Apr 8:29:100253. doi: 10.1016/j.scog.2022.100253. eCollection 2022 Sep.


Background: Emotion recognition deficits are linked with social dysfunction in psychosis, as is inaccurate self-assessment of emotion recognition abilities. However, little is known about the link between ER and real-time social appraisals and behavior.

Methods: In 136 people with psychotic disorders or affective disorder with psychosis we administered a novel ecological momentary cognitive test of emotion recognition which both assesses emotion recognition ability and self-assessed performance in conjunction with ecological momentary assessment of social appraisals, motivation, and time spent alone. Hybrid mixed effects models evaluated emotion recognition's associations with social experiences.

Results: Better recognition ability was associated with greater pleasure and more positive appraisals of others during interactions, whereas accuracy of self-assessment of emotion recognition ability was associated with more positive appraisals of interactions and social motivation. Overestimation of emotion recognition was linked with concurrent higher social motivation yet greater desire to avoid others. Time alone was unrelated to emotion recognition ability or self-assessment of ability.

Discussion: Mobile emotion recognition performance was associated with appraisals of recent interactions but not behavior. Self-assessment of social cognitive performance was associated with more positive appraisals and social motivation, and may be a novel target for interventions aimed at social dysfunction.

Keywords: Digital health; Ecological momentary assessment; Facial affect recognition; Mobile cognitive testing; Serious mental illness; Social motivation.