Emotion 2:398–411 (2002)

Adam Mayer
Keele University
Prior studies provide consistent evidence of deficits for psychopaths in processing verbal emotional material but are inconsistent regarding nonverbal emotional material. To examine whether psychopaths exhibit general versus specific deficits in nonverbal emotional processing, 34 psychopaths and 33 nonpsychopaths identified with Hare's (R. D. Hare, 1991) Psychopathy Checklist-Revised were asked to complete a facial affect recognition test. Slides of prototypic facial expressions were presented. Three hypotheses regarding hemispheric lateralization anomalies in psychopaths were also tested (right-hemisphere dysfunction, reduced lateralization, and reversed lateralization). Psychopaths were less accurate than nonpsychopaths at classifying facial affect under conditions promoting reliance on right-hemisphere resources and displayed a specific deficit in classifying disgust. These findings demonstrate that psychopaths exhibit specific deficits in nonverbal emotional processing.
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