Article

What's in a (Neutral) Face? Personality Disorders, Attachment Styles, and the Appraisal of Ambiguous Social Cues

The University of Surrey Roehampton, Whitelands College, West Hill, London, UK.
Journal of Personality Disorders (Impact Factor: 2.31). 08/2004; 18(4):320-336. DOI: 10.1521/pedi.18.4.320.40344

ABSTRACT Attachment theory suggests that borderline, avoidant, and schizoid personality disorders are differentially associated with anxious and avoidant attachment styles. The variations of insecure attachment in these disorders, in turn, might influence how others are perceived or appraised. To test these ideas, 176 college students completed questionnaires measuring attachment styles and personality disorder features, and each rated 10 emotionally neutral faces on 18 bipolar appraisal dimensions. As expected, borderline personality was associated with anxious attachment, avoidant personality was associated with anxious and avoidant attachment, and schizoid personality was weakly associated only with avoidant attachment. Furthermore, path analyses showed that borderline and avoidant personality features were associated with anxious attachment, which in turn related to negative face appraisals (e.g., tendencies to rate faces as less friendly and more rejecting). Discussion highlights the potential of simultaneously studying biases in social information processing and attachment disturbances among individuals with personality disorders.

Download full-text

Full-text

Available from: Paul A Pilkonis, Jul 07, 2014
2 Followers
 · 
263 Views
  • Source
    • "It was expected that, compared with the healthy control group, mothers with BPD would be significantly poorer at accurately recognizing the emotional displays of infants, and more specifically, would show a misattribution pattern with a tendency to more negatively interpret neutral facial expressions of infants. It was further expected that control mothers would show preferential attention for images of their own infant, measured by greater emotion-recognition accuracy, as compared with images of unknown infants, whereas mothers with BPD, who have been observed previously to have attachment-related disturbances (e.g., Choi-Kain et al., 2009; Fonagy et al., 2000; Levy et al., 2005; Meyer et al., 2004), would not show this differential pattern. "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Mothers with borderline personality disorder (BPD) have disturbed relationships with their infants, possibly associated with poor nonverbal cue perception. Individuals with BPD are poor at recognizing emotion in adults and tend to misattribute neutral (i.e., no emotion) as sad. This study extends previous research by examining how mothers with BPD perceive known (own) and unknown (control) infant stimuli depicting happy, sad, and neutral emotions. The sample consisted of 13 women diagnosed with BPD and 13 healthy control mothers. All participants completed clinical and parenting questionnaires and an infant emotion recognition task. Compared to control mothers, mothers with BPD were significantly poorer at infant emotion recognition overall, but especially neutral expressions which were misattributed most often as sad. Performance was not related to disturbed parenting but rather mothers’ age and illness duration. Neither the BPD nor control mothers showed enhanced accuracy for emotional displays of their own verses unknown infant-face images. Although the sample size was small, this study provides evidence that mothers with BPD negatively misinterpret neutral images, which may impact sensitive responding to infant emotional cues. These findings have implications for clinical practice and the development of remediation programs targeting emotion-perception disturbances in mothers with BPD.
    Infant Mental Health Journal 01/2014; 35(1). DOI:10.1002/imhj.21426 · 0.61 Impact Factor
  • Source
    • "Likewise, care must be taken in the interpretation of self-report data, particularly where a screening questionnaire is used without the use of accompanying structured interview, as with this Self-esteem and other-esteem in college students with borderline and avoidant personality 16 study's use of the SCID-II SQ. Nonetheless, such procedures are not uncommon, and regularly provide clinically and theoretically meaningful results (e.g., Bowles & Meyer, 2008; Dreessen et al., 1999; Meyer et al., 2004; Trull, Useda, Conforti and Doan, 1997). "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: An experimental study investigated self-esteem and other-esteem responses to either fully supportive or less supportive interpersonal feedback in college students with avoidant and borderline personality disorder features (APD and BPD respectively). Disturbances in self-esteem and in evaluations of others are central to definitions of both APD and BPD, but the extent to which such interpersonal appraisals are responsive to contextual features, such as evaluative feedback from others, is not yet clear. In theory, we would expect that individuals with pronounced PD features would show more inflexible and more negative self-evaluations and others- evaluations than those without PD features. In this study with 169 undergraduates, APD but not BPD features were associated with other-contingent state self-esteem and other-esteem. A significant interaction indicated that highly avoidant respondents felt particularly negatively about themselves and their close others in situations that conveyed subtle criticism but not in situations signalling unequivocal support. This suggests that their self-esteem and other-esteem, rather than being rigidly negative, are instead highly contingent upon interpersonal feedback. Such context contingency has implications for the trait-like description of diagnostic characteristics within current taxonomies and is in line with contemporary dynamic models of personality structure and process. Copyright © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
    Personality and Mental Health 11/2013; 7(4):307-19. DOI:10.1002/pmh.1230 · 1.10 Impact Factor
  • Source
    • "Surprisingly, many studies found superior capacities in BPD (e.g., Arntz, Bernstein, Oorschot, & Schobre, 2009; Fertuck et al., 2009; Frank & Hoffman, 1986; Franzen et al., 2011; Ladisich & Feil, 1988; Lynch et al., 2006; Wagner & Linehan, 1999). Others found no differences between BPD and nonpatients (Domes et al., 2008; Meyer, Pilkonis, & Beevers, 2004; Murphy, 2006). Still other studies found evidence for deficiencies (Bland, Williams, Scharer, & Manning, 2004; Hertel, Schütz, & Lammers, 2009; Levine, Marziali, & Hood, 1997; Sharp et al., 2011). "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: This experiment investigated social cognition in borderline personality disorder (BPD). We tested whether BPD-patients' evaluations of others were characterized by splitting, dichotomous thinking, or negativity; and whether they showed less complex understanding of others. Participants discussed a problem with three alleged mental health worker trainees, performing three interpersonal roles (rejecting, accepting and neutral). Participants evaluated trainees in a structured response format and in a semi-structured interview. BPD-patients (n = 18) were compared to Cluster-C personality disorder patients (n = 18) and nonpatients (n = 18). From visual analog scales with opposite trait descriptions (structured response format) negativity, dichotomous thinking, and splitting scores were derived. The interviews were scored by an independent rater on affect tone, differentiation, and complexity of attributions. BPD-patients showed, in all conditions, and in both response formats, more dichotomous thinking than control groups. Evidence for splitting as specific BPD-characteristic was not convincing, and more negativity in BPD was only found with the rejecting role and structured responses. The interview-based evaluations by BPD-patients could not be discriminated from nonpatients in cognitive complexity. Results indicate that dichotomous thinking, and not so much splitting, negativity, or less complexity, is central in the interpretation of others by BPD-patients. Treatment might address dichotomous thinking to reduce BPD-patients' interpersonal problems.
    Behaviour Research and Therapy 08/2012; 50(11):707-18. DOI:10.1016/j.brat.2012.07.002 · 3.85 Impact Factor
Show more