The Borderline Bias in Explicit Emotion Interpretation

Frontiers in Psychology 12 (2021)
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Abstract

Atypical emotion interpretation has been widely reported in individuals with borderline personality disorder ; however, empirical studies reported mixed results so far. We suggest that discrepancies in observations of emotion interpretation by iBPD can be explained by biases related to their fear of rejection and abandonment, i.e., the three moral emotions of anger, disgust, and contempt. In this study, we hypothesized that iBPD would show a higher tendency to correctly interpret these three displays of social rejection and attribute more negative valence. A total of 28 inpatient iBPDs and 28 healthy controls were asked to judge static and dynamic facial expressions in terms of emotions, valence, and self-reported arousal evoked by the observed faces. Our results partially confirmed our expectations. The iBPD correctly interpreted the three unambiguous moral emotions. Contempt, a complex emotion with a difficulty in recognizing facial expressions, was recognized better by iBPD than by healthy controls. All negative emotions were judged more negatively by iBPD than by controls, but no difference was observed in the neutral or positive emotion. Alexithymia and anxiety trait and state levels were controlled in all analyses.

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