The Effect of Gender of Emotion Perception in Remitted Major Depressive Disorder
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Prior research has found an effect of gender on emotion perception in nonpsychiatric samples, with women found to be more accurate than men. Differences have also been found in the perception of emotions on male and female faces. Prior research regarding emotion perception in remitted depression (rMDD) has been inconsistent, with some finding those with rMDD have higher accuracy compared to healthy controls (HC) and others finding individuals with rMDD have lower accuracy. The current study examines the effect of diagnosis, participant gender, and facial stimuli gender on facial emotion perception in rMDD and HC groups. Generalized linear mixed effects models found an effect of facial emotional valence, with individuals perceiving happy faces more accurately than aggregated angry and fearful faces. Diagnosis and stimuli gender were also significantly related, such that individuals with rMDD were found to have more accurate perception than HCs of emotions on female faces. Additionally, participant gender and diagnosis interacted, with HC men demonstrating lower accuracy than rMDD men, rMDD women, and HC women. The relationship between participant gender and diagnosis was also found to be emotion-specific. For happy faces, HC men were less accurate than the other three gender-diagnosis subsamples; for negative faces, women with rMDD more accurately perceived angry and fear faces than the other subsamples. These findings suggest emotion perception during remitted depression may be heightened compared to HCs. It also suggests that depression affects emotion perception in both men and women and emphasizes the importance of considering gender when examining emotion perception.