Differences between depressed and nondepressed individuals in the recognition of and response to facial emotional cues

J Abnorm Psychol. 1993 Aug;102(3):358-68. doi: 10.1037//0021-843x.102.3.358.


The present study investigated the recognition of, and responses to, facial expressions of emotion. Participants were all women and consisted of the following groups: (a) Sixteen depressed college students; (b) 16 nondepressed college students; (c) 16 depressed psychiatric patients; and (d) 11 nondepressed psychiatric patients. Results suggest that both depressed groups, relative to the nondepressed college group, made more errors in recognizing the facial expressions and reported more freezing or tensing; higher fear and depression reactions; and less comfort with their own emotional reactions to these expressions and a stronger desire to change these reactions. Few differences were found between the depressed psychiatric patients and the psychiatric control subjects. It is concluded that inappropriate reactions to others' emotions may maintain or increase depression.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Arousal
  • Attention*
  • Depressive Disorder / diagnosis
  • Depressive Disorder / psychology*
  • Emotions*
  • Facial Expression*
  • Female
  • Hospitalization
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Pattern Recognition, Visual*