Emotional sensitivity in youth with borderline personality pathology

Martina Jovev*, Andrew Chanen, Melissa Green, Sue Cotton, Tina Proffitt, Max Coltheart, Henry Jackson

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    42 Citations (Scopus)


    If Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) is characterized by an underlying emotional sensitivity, individuals with this disorder would be expected to demonstrate accurate identification of emotional expressions at earlier stages of expression (i.e., lower thresholds of facial expressivity across all emotional valences). Twenty-one outpatient youth (aged 15-24. years) meeting 3 or more DSM-IV BPD criteria and 20 community-derived participants (aged 15-24. years) with no history of psychiatric problems were tested on a measure of emotional sensitivity, the Face Morph Task. In this test faces morph from neutral to each of the six basic emotional expressions. The BPD group showed no evidence of heightened sensitivity to emotional facial expressions compared to the community control group (all P> 0.05 and effect sizes ranging from 0 to 0.6). They require comparable levels of emotional expressivity in order to correctly identify emotions. Therefore, emotional sensitivity might not be apparent early in the course of BPD. Rather, it might develop later in the course of the disorder or be present only in severe BPD.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)234-240
    Number of pages7
    JournalPsychiatry Research
    Issue number1-2
    Publication statusPublished - 15 May 2011


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