Date: 09 Oct 2009

Facial expression in male and female schizophrenia patients

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Abstract

This study investigated gender differences in facial expression as a reaction to various emotional stimuli in two groups of schizophrenia patients. The first group consisted of hospitalized patients (22 men and 13 women) who were tested at three points in time. The second group consisted of outpatients (21 men, 8 women) who were tested at two points in time. In addition, the facial behaviour of two control groups was investigated (17 men and 12 women; 18 men and 14 women, respectively). Facial activity was videotaped, whilst participants watched emotion-eliciting video clips and participated in an emotion-inducing interview, and measured using the Facial Action Coding System. In agreement with our expectations, schizophrenia patients showed significantly less facial activity overall than healthy control participants. Contrary to expectations, however, female patients did not display more facial activity compared to male schizophrenia patients. This finding contrasts with those of healthy participants in previous studies where women tended to show more facial activity than men. It was further expected that in non-psychotic patients (i.e. outpatients), gender differences would be more clearly apparent and female schizophrenia patients would show considerably more facial activity than male patients, with findings more or less comparable to the gender differences found in healthy controls. However, no significant interaction was found between patient group (in- vs. outpatients) and gender. The different explanations for these findings are considered in this study.