Heavy Drinking May Impair Men’s Ability to Recognize Facial Emotions

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ngd-“You lookin’ at me?”

Summary: Men who are intoxicated with alcohol have impairments when it comes to correctly assessing emotional facial cues in others. Researchers speculate the findings may explain why alcohol use is often associated with harmful interpersonal and social interactions, such as aggression and domestic violence.

Source: Research Society on Alcoholism

Alcohol intoxication is linked to impairments in the ability to interpret other people’s facial expressions, especially in men, according to a new study.

The findings may help explain why alcohol use is often associated with harmful interpersonal and social consequences, such as physical aggression, intimate partner violence, sexual assault, or being victimized.

Heavy drinking is known to have the potential to disrupt the recognition of facial expressions, leading to misinterpretation. This may in turn contribute to inappropriate behaviors.

Identifying the social processing mechanisms influenced by alcohol may inform interventions designed to reduce these negative outcomes.

Participants who were more intoxicated were less accurate at identifying facial emotions. Increased intoxication was associated with lower accuracy among men; the decline in accuracy among women was insignificant.

The most accurately identified facial emotion was happiness; the least accurately identified emotion was sadness.

Overall, higher BrAC was linked to worse emotion recognition for the images showing sadness, disgust, and neutrality.

Among men, higher BrAC correlated with worse emotion recognition for sadness, anger, and neutrality.

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