STUDY ALERT: Psychopaths show less emotional leakage

June 18, 2012 in Study Alerts

Would I lie to you? ‘‘leakage’’ in deceptive facial expressions relates to psychopathy and emotional intelligence 

Stephen Porter, Leanne ten Brinke, Alysha Baker, Brendan Wallace    

This was the first investigation of individual differences in adopting deceptive universal emotional expressions. We hypothesized that psychopathic traits would lead to a heightened ability to suppress emotional expressions and exhibit less ‘‘leakage’’ of inconsistent emotions during deceptive displays. Further, we predicted that emotional intelligence (EI) would lead to a heightened ability to simulate emotional expressions. Participants (N = 100) viewed emotionally arousing (happy, sad, fearful, disgusting) images, responding to each with a genuine or deceptive expression. Each video frame (30/sec) was coded for emotion (in)consistent with the intended expression (365,550 frames coded for 2437 expressions). As predicted, psychopathic traits – specifically, high levels of interpersonal manipulation – were related to shorter durations of unintended emotional ‘‘leakage’’ during deceptive expressions. In contrast, the erratic lifestyle element of psychopathy predicted greater emotional inconsistency during deceptive displays.


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