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May 1976

Appropriate and Background Affect in Facial Displays of Emotion: Comparison of Normal and Schizophrenic Males

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Psychiatry and Human Behavior, Jefferson Medical College of the Thomas Jefferson University, and the Veterans Administration Hospital, Coatesville, Penn (Drs Gottheil and Thornton), and the Department of Psychology, University of Delaware, Newark (Dr Exline).

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1976;33(5):565-568. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1976.01770050033004

• The hypothesis that normal subjects can express emotions more accurately than schizophrenics was tested by having judges match photographs of five posed affects with five emotion words for each of 16 normal and 16 schizophrenic male expressors. Discrimination accuracy was high, but the hypothesis was not confirmed. The results of a second study, in which separate measures of appropriate (intended) and "background" affect (eg, the rated intensity of anger displayed in a subject's nonangry poses) were provided, supported our expectation that discrimination accuracy is a function of both appropriate and background affect. The normal men tended to display more appropriate affect generally, and displayed more background happiness, while the schizophrenics expressed more background anger, sadness, and fear. Both intended and background affect, therefore, must be carefully considered in studies of emotional expressions.

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