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Original Research ARTICLE

Front. Psychol., 26 June 2013 | http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2013.00376

Face puzzle—two new video-based tasks for measuring explicit and implicit aspects of facial emotion recognition

  • 1Cluster of Excellence “Languages of Emotion”, Freie Universität Berlin, Berlin, Germany
  • 2Department of Education and Psychology, Freie Universität Berlin, Berlin, Germany
  • 3Center of Neurodevelopmental Disorders (KIND), Department of Women's and Children's Health, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden
  • 4Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Stockholm County Council, Stockholm, Sweden

Recognizing others' emotional states is crucial for effective social interaction. While most facial emotion recognition tasks use explicit prompts that trigger consciously controlled processing, emotional faces are almost exclusively processed implicitly in real life. Recent attempts in social cognition suggest a dual process perspective, whereby explicit and implicit processes largely operate independently. However, due to differences in methodology the direct comparison of implicit and explicit social cognition has remained a challenge. Here, we introduce a new tool to comparably measure implicit and explicit processing aspects comprising basic and complex emotions in facial expressions. We developed two video-based tasks with similar answer formats to assess performance in respective facial emotion recognition processes: Face Puzzle, implicit and explicit. To assess the tasks' sensitivity to atypical social cognition and to infer interrelationship patterns between explicit and implicit processes in typical and atypical development, we included healthy adults (NT, n = 24) and adults with autism spectrum disorder (ASD, n = 24). Item analyses yielded good reliability of the new tasks. Group-specific results indicated sensitivity to subtle social impairments in high-functioning ASD. Correlation analyses with established implicit and explicit socio-cognitive measures were further in favor of the tasks' external validity. Between group comparisons provide first hints of differential relations between implicit and explicit aspects of facial emotion recognition processes in healthy compared to ASD participants. In addition, an increased magnitude of between group differences in the implicit task was found for a speed-accuracy composite measure. The new Face Puzzle tool thus provides two new tasks to separately assess explicit and implicit social functioning, for instance, to measure subtle impairments as well as potential improvements due to social cognitive interventions.

Keywords: social cognition, implicit, explicit, faces, emotion recognition, autism spectrum disorder

Citation: Kliemann D, Rosenblau G, Bölte S, Heekeren HR and Dziobek I (2013) Face puzzle—two new video-based tasks for measuring explicit and implicit aspects of facial emotion recognition. Front. Psychol. 4:376. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2013.00376

Received: 05 December 2012; Accepted: 07 June 2013;
Published online: 26 June 2013.

Edited by:

Marina A. Pavlova, Eberhard Karls University of Tübingen, Germany

Reviewed by:

Sharon Gilaie-Dotan, University College London, UK
Susanne Leiberg, University of Zurich, Switzerland
Tjeerd Jellema, The University of Hull, UK

Copyright © 2013 Kliemann, Rosenblau, Bölte, Heekeren and Dziobek. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in other forums, provided the original authors and source are credited and subject to any copyright notices concerning any third-party graphics etc.

*Correspondence: Dorit Kliemann and Isabel Dziobek, Freie Universität Berlin, Habelschwerdter Allee 45, 14195 Berlin, Germany e-mail: dorit.kliemann@fu-berlin.de; isabel.dziobek@fu-berlin.de