Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Misreading faces tied to child social anxiety

Date:
April 1, 2011
Source:
Emory University
Summary:
Children suffering from extreme social anxiety are trapped in a nightmare of misinterpreted facial expressions: They confuse angry faces with sad ones, a new study shows.

Children suffering from extreme social anxiety are trapped in a nightmare of misinterpreted facial expressions: They confuse angry faces with sad ones, a new study shows.

"If you misread facial expressions, you're in social trouble, no matter what other social skills you have," says Emory psychologist Steve Nowicki, a clinical researcher who developed the tests used in the study. "It can make life very difficult, because other people's faces are like a prism through which we look at the world."

It's easy to assume that a socially anxious child would be especially sensitive to anger. "It turns out that they never learn to pick up on anger and often make the error of seeing it as sadness," Nowicki says. "It sets up a very problematic interaction." Some socially anxious children long to interact with others, he says, and may try to comfort someone they think is sad, but who is actually angry. "They want to help, because they're good kids," Nowicki says. "I've seen these kids trying to make a friend, and keep trying, but they keep getting rebuffed and are never aware of the reason why."

The study was co-authored by Amy Walker, a former undergraduate student at Emory, now at Yeshiva University, and will be published in the Journal of Genetic Psychology.

It is unclear whether misreading the facial expression is linked to the cause of the anxiety, or merely contributing to it.

By identifying the patterns of errors in nonverbal communication, Nowicki hopes to create better diagnostic tools and interventions for those affected with behavioral disorders.

For more than two decades, in association with Emory psychologist Marshall Duke, Nowicki has produced a groundbreaking body of work on how non-verbal communication impacts a child's development. They have found that in a range of children with behavioral disorders, including high-functioning autism, direct teaching can improve their non-verbal communication.

"When I first started this work, people asked me, why are you doing this? Everybody can recognize emotions in faces," Nowicki recalls. Nonverbal communication was not taken that seriously, and relegated to popular magazine articles like, "Seven ways to improve your body language."

In his clinical practice, however, Nowicki noticed that some children who had trouble socializing appeared to misinterpret nonverbal clues. He sought ways to measure the deficits and remediate them.

"My heart went out to these kids," he says. "I had the idea that nonverbal communication could be taught. It's a skill, not something mysterious."

Nowicki and Duke coined the term "dyssemia," meaning the inability to process signs. They also developed the Diagnostic Analysis of Nonverbal Accuracy (DANVA) to assess subtle cues to emotional expressions, including visual signals and tone and cadence of voice. DANVA is now widely used by researchers in studies of everything from emotionally disturbed children to the relationships between doctors and their patients.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Emory University. The original article was written by Carol Clark. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Emory University. "Misreading faces tied to child social anxiety." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 1 April 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/03/110331103957.htm>.
Emory University. (2011, April 1). Misreading faces tied to child social anxiety. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 24, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/03/110331103957.htm
Emory University. "Misreading faces tied to child social anxiety." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/03/110331103957.htm (accessed July 24, 2014).

Share This




More Mind & Brain News

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

New Painkiller Designed To Discourage Abuse: Will It Work?

New Painkiller Designed To Discourage Abuse: Will It Work?

Newsy (July 24, 2014) The FDA approved Targiniq ER on Wednesday, a painkiller designed to keep users from abusing it. Like any new medication, however, it has doubters. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
China's Ageing Millions Look Forward to Bleak Future

China's Ageing Millions Look Forward to Bleak Future

AFP (July 24, 2014) China's elderly population is expanding so quickly that children struggle to look after them, pushing them to do something unexpected in Chinese society- move their parents into a nursing home. Duration: 02:07 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Idaho Boy Helps Brother With Disabilities Complete Triathlon

Idaho Boy Helps Brother With Disabilities Complete Triathlon

Newsy (July 23, 2014) An 8-year-old boy helped his younger brother, who has a rare genetic condition that's confined him to a wheelchair, finish a triathlon. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Huge Schizophrenia Study Finds Dozens Of New Genetic Causes

Huge Schizophrenia Study Finds Dozens Of New Genetic Causes

Newsy (July 22, 2014) The 83 new genetic markers could open dozens of new avenues for schizophrenia treatment research. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins