Higher trait mindfulness is associated with empathy but not with emotion recognition abilities.
ABSTRACT: Mindfulness involves an intentional and non-judgemental attention or awareness of present-moment experiences. It can be cultivated by meditation practice or present as an inherent disposition or trait. Higher trait mindfulness has been associated with improved emotional skills, but evidence comes primarily from studies on emotion regulation. It remains unclear whether improvements extend to other aspects of emotional processing, namely the ability to recognize emotions in others. In the current study, 107 participants (M age = 25.48 years) completed a measure of trait mindfulness, the Five Facet Mindfulness Questionnaire, and two emotion recognition tasks. These tasks required participants to categorize emotions in facial expressions and in speech prosody (modulations of the tone of voice). They also completed an empathy questionnaire and attention tasks. We found that higher trait mindfulness was associated positively with cognitive empathy, but not with the ability to recognize emotions. In fact, Bayesian analyses provided substantial evidence for the null hypothesis, both for emotion recognition in faces and in speech. Moreover, no associations were observed between mindfulness and attention performance. These findings suggest that the positive effects of trait mindfulness on emotional processing do not extend to emotion recognition abilities.
Project description:OBJECTIVES:To assess the feasibility and acceptability of a mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR)-based intervention and determine if the intervention is associated with a significant signal on empathy and emotional competencies. DESIGN:Two pre-post proof-of-concept studies. SETTING:Participants were recruited at the University of Montreal's Psychology Department (Study 1) and the CHU Sainte-Justine Department of Hematology-Oncology (Study 2). PARTICIPANTS:Study 1: 12 students completed the 8-week programme (mean age 24, range 18-34). Study 2: 25 professionals completed the 8-week programme (mean age 48, range 27-63). INTERVENTION:Standard MBSR programme including 8-week mindfulness programme consisting of 8 consecutive weekly 2-hour sessions and a full-day silent retreat. OUTCOMES MEASURES:Mindfulness as measured by the Mindful Attention Awareness Scale; empathy as measured by the Interpersonal Reactivity Index (IRI)'s Perspective Taking and Empathic Concern subscales; identification of one's own emotions and those of others as measured by the Profile of Emotional Competence (PEC)'s Identify my Emotions and Identify Others' Emotions subscales; emotional acceptance as measured by the Acceptance and Action Questionnaire-II (AAQ-II) and the Emotion Regulation Scale (ERQ)'s Expressive Suppression subscale; and recognition of emotions in others as measured by the Geneva Emotion Recognition Test (GERT). RESULTS:In both studies, retention rates (80%-81%) were acceptable. Participants who completed the programme improved on all measures except the PEC's Identify Others' Emotions and the IRI's Empathic Concern (Cohen's d median=0.92, range 45-1.72). In Study 2, favourable effects associated with the programme were maintained over 3 months on the PEC's Identify my Emotions, the AAQ-II, the ERQ's Expressive Suppression and the GERT. CONCLUSIONS:The programme was feasible and acceptable. It was associated with a significant signal on the following outcomes: perspective taking, the identification of one's own emotions and emotional acceptance, thus, justifying moving towards efficacy trials using these outcomes.
Project description:Central to emotion science is the degree to which categories, such as Awe, or broader affective features, such as Valence, underlie the recognition of emotional expression. To explore the processes by which people recognize emotion from prosody, US and Indian participants were asked to judge the emotion categories or affective features communicated by 2,519?speech samples produced by 100?actors from 5?cultures. With large-scale statistical inference methods, we find that prosody can communicate at least 12?distinct kinds of emotion that are preserved across the 2?cultures. Analyses of the semantic and acoustic structure of the recognition of emotions reveal that emotion categories drive the recognition of emotions more so than affective features, including Valence. In contrast to discrete emotion theories, however, emotion categories are bridged by gradients representing blends of emotions. Our findings, visualized within an interactive map, reveal a complex, high-dimensional space of emotional states recognized cross-culturally in speech prosody.
Project description:The present study examines the effect of language experience on vocal emotion perception in a second language. Native speakers of French with varying levels of self-reported English ability were asked to identify emotions from vocal expressions produced by American actors in a forced-choice task, and to rate their pleasantness, power, alertness and intensity on continuous scales. Stimuli included emotionally expressive English speech (emotional prosody) and non-linguistic vocalizations (affect bursts), and a baseline condition with Swiss-French pseudo-speech. Results revealed effects of English ability on the recognition of emotions in English speech but not in non-linguistic vocalizations. Specifically, higher English ability was associated with less accurate identification of positive emotions, but not with the interpretation of negative emotions. Moreover, higher English ability was associated with lower ratings of pleasantness and power, again only for emotional prosody. This suggests that second language skills may sometimes interfere with emotion recognition from speech prosody, particularly for positive emotions.
Project description:Previous research has shown that the habit of suppressing emotional expressions is associated with long-term, general reductions in social cognitive abilities and interpersonal adjustment. This may be because theoretically, habitual suppression requires the fixation of attention to the self instead of to others. The present research explored the association between the habitual tendency to suppress one's own emotions and accuracy in recognizing the emotions of others. Emotion recognition accuracy was tested across two tasks, a limited-channel task that presents limited emotional information and a multimodal full-channel task. We further explored cultural differences in this association given that expressive suppression may be normative for individuals of Asian descent due to cultural motivations toward social harmony and interdependence. Our findings revealed few cultural group differences. U.S.-born Asian Americans outperformed foreign-born Asian Americans and European Americans in limited-channel emotion recognition. However, the three groups did not differ in terms of interdependent self-construal, habitual emotion suppression, and full-channel emotion recognition ability. Interdependent self-construal was related to greater habitual suppression and emotion recognition accuracy in the full-channel task. Habitual emotion suppression was negatively related to limited-channel but not full-channel emotion recognition. There was no evidence of cultural differences in the link between habitual suppression and emotion recognition.
Project description:<h4>Background</h4>Interoception refers to the conscious perception of body signals. Mindfulness is a meditation practice that encourages individuals to focus on their internal experiences such as bodily sensations, thoughts, and emotions. In this study, we selected a behavioral measure of interoceptive sensitivity (heartbeat detection task, HBD) to compare the effect of meditation practice on interoceptive sensitivity among long term practitioners (LTP), short term meditators (STM, subjects that completed a Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program) and controls (non-meditators). All participants were examined with a battery of different tasks including mood state, executive function and social cognition tests (emotion recognition, empathy and theory of mind).<h4>Findings</h4>Compared to controls, both meditators' groups showed lower levels of anxiety and depression, but no improvement in executive function or social cognition performance was observed (except for lower scores compared to controls only in the personal distress dimension of empathy). More importantly, meditators' performance did not differ from that of nonmeditators regarding cardiac interoceptive sensitivity.<h4>Conclusion</h4>Results suggest no influence of meditation practice in cardiac interoception and in most related social cognition measures. These negative results could be partially due to the fact that awareness of heartbeat sensations is not emphasized during mindfulness/vipassana meditation and may not be the best index of the awareness supported by the practice of meditation.
Project description:Depressive rumination is considered a prominent risk factor for the occurrence, severity, and duration of depressive episodes. A variety of treatment options have been developed to treat depressive rumination of which mindfulness based programs are especially promising. In the current study, we investigated the neural underpinnings of a short mindfulness intervention and mindful emotion regulation in high and low trait ruminators in an ecologically valid environment using functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS). Participants were randomly assigned to a mindfulness instruction (MT) group or an instructed thinking (IT) group. Participants in the MT group were trained to either focus their attention mindfully on their breath or their emotions, while the IT group focused their attention on the past or future. Afterwards, all participants underwent an emotion regulation paradigm in which they either watched negative or neutral movie clips. During both paradigms cortical hemodynamic changes were assessed by means of fNIRS. Participants in the MT group showed lower activity in the cognitive control network (CCN) during the focus on breath condition in comparison to the focus on emotion condition. Additionally, oxygenated hemoglobin in the MT group tended to be lower than in the IT group. Further, self-reports of emotional distress during the instruction paradigm were reduced in the MT group. During the emotion regulation paradigm, we observed reduced emotional reactivity in terms of emotional distress and avoidance in the MT group in comparison to the IT group. Furthermore, on a neural level, we observed higher CCN activity in the MT group in comparison to the IT group. We did not find any effect of rumination, neither on the intervention nor on the emotion regulation task. The results of this pilot study are discussed in light of the present literature on the neural correlates of mindfulness based interventions in rumination and emphasize the use of fNIRS to track neural changes in situ over the course of therapy.
Project description:Empathy refers to the thoughts and feelings of one individual in response to the observed (emotional) experiences of another individual. Empathy, however, can occur toward persons experiencing a variety of emotions, raising the question of whether or not empathy can be emotion specific. This paper discusses theoretical and empirical support for the emotion specificity of empathy. We present a new measure, the Emotion Specific Empathy questionnaire, which assesses affective and cognitive empathy for the six basic emotions. This paper presents the measure's psychometric qualities and demonstrates, through a series of models, the discriminant validity between emotion specific empathies suggesting empathy is emotion specific. Results and implications are discussed.
Project description:Extant studies suggest that children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) may make more errors and respond more slowly on tasks that require them to identify emotions based on facial affect. It is unclear, however, whether these findings reflect a unique deficit in emotion recognition, or more general difficulty with choice-response tasks (i.e., tasks that require participants to select among a set of competing options). In addition, ADHD is associated with executive dysfunction, but there is inconsistent evidence regarding the extent to which top-down cognitive control is involved in emotion recognition. The current study used a series of four counterbalanced tasks to systematically manipulate emotional content and working memory demands to determine (a) whether children with ADHD exhibit a unique facial affect recognition deficit and (b) the extent to which facial affect recognition is an automatic versus controlled process that depends in part on working memory. Bayesian results from a carefully phenotyped sample of 64 children ages 8 to 13 (M = 10.42, SD = 1.56; 26 girls; 67% Caucasian/non-Hispanic) with ADHD (n = 35) and without ADHD (n = 29) indicated that working memory is involved in children's ability to efficiently infer emotional state from facial affect (BF??= 4.59 × 10¹?). Importantly, there was significant evidence against deficits in emotion recognition for children with ADHD. The ADHD/non-ADHD groups were statistically equivalent in terms of recognition accuracy (BF?? = 1.32 × 10??, d = -0.18), and the ADHD group's slower recognition speed was parsimoniously explained by difficulty with choice-response tasks rather than unique to emotional stimuli (BF?? = 3.23, d = 0.31). These findings suggest that emotion recognition abilities are intact in children with ADHD, and highlight the need to control for impaired bottom-up (choice-response) and top-down abilities (working memory) when investigating emotional functioning in ADHD. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2019 APA, all rights reserved).
Project description:<h4>Objective</h4>The purpose of this study was to examine the level of empathy in deaf and hard of hearing (pre)adolescents compared to normal hearing controls and to define the influence of language and various hearing loss characteristics on the development of empathy.<h4>Methods</h4>The study group (mean age 11.9 years) consisted of 122 deaf and hard of hearing children (52 children with cochlear implants and 70 children with conventional hearing aids) and 162 normal hearing children. The two groups were compared using self-reports, a parent-report and observation tasks to rate the children's level of empathy, their attendance to others' emotions, emotion recognition, and supportive behavior.<h4>Results</h4>Deaf and hard of hearing children reported lower levels of cognitive empathy and prosocial motivation than normal hearing children, regardless of their type of hearing device. The level of emotion recognition was equal in both groups. During observations, deaf and hard of hearing children showed more attention to the emotion evoking events but less supportive behavior compared to their normal hearing peers. Deaf and hard of hearing children attending mainstream education or using oral language show higher levels of cognitive empathy and prosocial motivation than deaf and hard of hearing children who use sign (supported) language or attend special education. However, they are still outperformed by normal hearing children.<h4>Conclusions</h4>Deaf and hard of hearing children, especially those in special education, show lower levels of empathy than normal hearing children, which can have consequences for initiating and maintaining relationships.
Project description:The main objective of the present research was to examine the role played by emotional intelligence in its three dimensions-emotional attention, emotional clarity, and emotion regulation-and by empathy in its four dimensions-perspective-taking, empathic understanding, empathic stress, and empathic joy-in cyber violence, both in aggressors and victims. A total sample of 1318 adolescents (47% boys; aged between 11 and 17 years), enrolled in four secondary compulsory education schools in Spain, participated in the study. The results indicated that, regarding emotional intelligence, cyberaggressors showed statistically significant differences in the dimension of emotion regulation. Participation in violent online behaviors is associated with a lower capacity to regulate emotions; cybervictims showed statistically significant differences in the three dimensions of emotional intelligence. Regarding empathy, cyberaggressors obtained statistically significant group differences in three of these dimensions: perspective-taking, empathetic joy, and empathic stress. Finally, the empathy dimensions for the cybervictimization groups did not show significant mean differences, indicating that there was no statistical relationship between the degree of cybervictimization and the individual's empathy. These findings stress the relevance of emotion regulation in cyberviolence in students in adolescence and allow us to understand the different roles it plays for offenders and victims.