Poster A23, Saturday, March 25, 5:00 – 7:00 pm, Pacific Concourse
Who Cares About Feelings? An ERP Study of Emotional Face Processing, Psychopathic Traits, and Empathy
Danielle diFilipo1,2, Taylor Valentin2, Kayla Talbot2, Jill Grose-Fifer1,2; 1The Graduate Center, City University of New York, 2John Jay College of Criminal Justice, City University of New York
Psychopathy is a personality-based construct that is characterized at least in part by a lack of empathy. Adults with high psychopathic traits have been shown to be worse than those with low traits at accurately identifying positive and negative facial expressions, and high psychopathic traits have also been associated with reduced neural activity in the face fusiform gyrus. In this study, we used ERPs to investigate how the neural correlates of emotional face processing varied with different levels of psychopathic traits in undergraduates. EEGs were recorded using 64 scalp electrodes while participants viewed photos of happy, fearful, and sad faces from the NimStim set of emotional faces. Psychopathic traits were measured using scores from the Psychopathic Personality Inventory-Revised (PPI-R) and empathic traits were measured using the Interpersonal Reactivity Index (IRI). We found that IRI Perspective-Taking scores were negatively correlated with PPI-R Fearless Dominance and Coldheartedness scores. PPI-R Fearless Dominance and Coldheartedness scores were also correlated with significantly smaller LPP amplitudes (600-800 ms) in response to sad faces. IRI Perspective-Taking scores were correlated with significantly larger LPP amplitudes in response to sad faces. These results suggest that while happy and fearful faces sustained attention in participants with high levels of psychopathic traits, sad faces were less effective in maintaining attention. Furthermore, participants who were better at taking the perspective of others found sad faces particularly salient. These results support previous findings of atypical emotional face processing in psychopathy.
Topic Area: EMOTION & SOCIAL: Emotion-cognition interactions