Empathy, emotion dysregulation, and enhanced microexpression recognition ability

Elena Svetieva*, Mark G. Frank

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Citations (Scopus)


The present study examined empathy and emotion dysregulation, two individual traits related to the perception and experience of others’ emotions, and the recognition of both spontaneous and standardized microexpressions of emotion. Ninety-three participants viewed a stimulus set of natural (spontaneous) microexpressions in addition to completing a standardized test of microexpression recognition ability, as well as completing questionnaires on empathy and emotion dysregulation. Results indicate that emotion dysregulation is associated with enhanced microexpression recognition, particularly recognition of anger microexpressions, but that this enhanced recognition was only observed for standardized microexpressions. Empathy was associated with increased recognition of anger microexpressions in the natural stimulus set only, and was not associated with overall microexpression recognition accuracy in either the natural stimulus set or the standardized test. The present findings inform understanding of intrapersonal affective traits in subtle emotion recognition, and theoretical and practical implications are discussed in both clinical and deception detection contexts.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)309-320
Number of pages12
JournalMotivation and Emotion
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2016


  • Emotion dysregulation
  • Emotion expression recognition
  • Empathy
  • Microexpression recognition


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