The Role of Facial Feedback in the Modulation of Clinically-Relevant Ambiguity Resolution

Abstract

Two experiments investigated the effect of facial expressions on clinically-relevant ambiguity resolution in a nonclinical sample. Experiment 1 investigated the effect of negative facial feedback (frowning) on a basic threat-interpretation bias procedure using a homophone spelling task and found that participants in a frowning condition interpreted significantly more threat/neutral homophones as threats than did participants in a neutral control condition. Experiment 2 investigated how frowning affected interpretation of bodily sensations. The findings indicated that participants in the frowning condition generated fewer positive consequences for bodily sensation scenarios and also rated the imagined bodily sensations as more negative and more of a cause for health concern. These effects could not simply be explained by differences in self-reported mood or by demand characteristics. These findings suggest that facial expressions have a moderating effect on the cognitive processes that contribute to clinically-relevant ambiguity resolution, and this has implications for clinical interventions.

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Correspondence to Graham C. L. Davey.

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Davey, G.C.L., Sired, R., Jones, S. et al. The Role of Facial Feedback in the Modulation of Clinically-Relevant Ambiguity Resolution. Cogn Ther Res 37, 284–295 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10608-012-9480-5

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Keywords

  • Emotion
  • Facial expressions
  • Interpretation biases
  • Negative mood
  • Embodiment
  • Ambiguity resolution