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The Role of Perspective-Taking on Ability to Recognize Fear
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Impairment in the ability to detect certain emotions, such as fear, is linked to multiple disorders and follows a pattern of interindividual variability and intra-individual stability over time. Deficits in fear recognition are often related to social and interpersonal difficulties but the mechanisms by which this processing deficit might occur are not well understood. One potential mechanism through which impaired fear detection may influence social competency is through diminished perspective-taking, the ability to perceive and consider the point of view of another individual. In the current study, we hypothesized that intraindividual variability in the accuracy of facial emotion recognition is linked to perspective-taking abilities in a well-characterized, non-clinical adult sample. Results indicated that the ability to accurately detect fear in the faces of others was positively correlated with perspective-taking, consistent with initial hypotheses. This relationship appeared to be unique to recognition of fear, as perspective-taking was not significantly associated with recognition of the other basic emotions. Results from this study represent an initial step towards establishing a potential mechanism between some processes of FER and perspective-taking difficulties. It is important to establish the relationship between these processes in a non-clinical adult sample so that we can consider the possibility of a developmental or pathological influence of impoverished perspective-taking on fear perception.