Social anxiety disorder women easily recognize fearfull, sad and happy faces: the influence of gender

Kátia C Arrais, João Paulo Machado-de-Sousa, Clarissa Trzesniak, Alaor Santos Filho, Maria Cecília F Ferrari, Flávia L Osório, Sonia R Loureiro, Antonio E Nardi, Luiz Alberto B Hetem, Antonio W Zuardi, Jaime Eduardo C Hallak, José Alexandre S Crippa
Journal of Psychiatric Research 2010, 44 (8): 535-40

BACKGROUND: It has been suggested that individuals with social anxiety disorder (SAD) are exaggeratedly concerned about approval and disapproval by others. Therefore, we assessed the recognition of facial expressions by individuals with SAD, in an attempt to overcome the limitations of previous studies.

METHODS: The sample was formed by 231 individuals (78 SAD patients and 153 healthy controls). All individuals were treatment naïve, aged 18-30 years and with similar socioeconomic level. Participants judged which emotion (happiness, sadness, disgust, anger, fear, and surprise) was presented in the facial expression of stimuli displayed on a computer screen. The stimuli were manipulated in order to depict different emotional intensities, with the initial image being a neutral face (0%) and, as the individual moved on across images, the expressions increased their emotional intensity until reaching the total emotion (100%). The time, accuracy, and intensity necessary to perform judgments were evaluated.

RESULTS: The groups did not show statistically significant differences in respect to the number of correct judgments or to the time necessary to respond. However, women with SAD required less emotional intensity to recognize faces displaying fear (p=0.002), sadness (p=0.033) and happiness (p=0.002), with no significant differences for the other emotions or men with SAD.

CONCLUSIONS: The findings suggest that women with SAD are hypersensitive to threat-related and approval-related social cues. Future studies investigating the neural basis of the impaired processing of facial emotion in SAD using functional neuroimaging would be desirable and opportune.

Full Text Links

Find Full Text Links for this Article


You are not logged in. Sign Up or Log In to join the discussion.

Related Papers

Remove bar
Read by QxMD icon Read

Save your favorite articles in one place with a free QxMD account.


Search Tips

Use Boolean operators: AND/OR

diabetic AND foot
diabetes OR diabetic

Exclude a word using the 'minus' sign

Virchow -triad

Use Parentheses

water AND (cup OR glass)

Add an asterisk (*) at end of a word to include word stems

Neuro* will search for Neurology, Neuroscientist, Neurological, and so on

Use quotes to search for an exact phrase

"primary prevention of cancer"
(heart or cardiac or cardio*) AND arrest -"American Heart Association"