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Laukka, Petri; Banziger, Tanja; Israelsson, Alexandra; Cortes, Diana Sanchez; Tornberg, Christina; Scherer, Klaus R. and Fischer, Hakan (2021): Investigating individual differences in emotion recognition ability using the ERAM test. In: Acta Psychologica, Vol. 220, 103422

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Individuals vary in emotion recognition ability (ERA), but the causes and correlates of this variability are not well understood. Previous studies have largely focused on unimodal facial or vocal expressions and a small number of emotion categories, which may not reflect how emotions are expressed in everyday interactions. We investigated individual differences in ERA using a brief test containing dynamic multimodal (facial and vocal) expressions of 5 positive and 7 negative emotions (the ERAM test). Study 1 (N = 593) showed that ERA was positively correlated with emotional understanding, empathy, and openness, and negatively correlated with alexithymia. Women also had higher ERA than men. Study 2 was conducted online and replicated the recognition rates from Study 1 (which was conducted in lab) in a different sample (N = 106). Study 2 also showed that participants who had higher ERA were more accurate in their meta-cognitive judgments about their own accuracy. Recognition rates for visual, auditory, and audio-visual expressions were substantially correlated in both studies. Results provide further clues about the underlying structure of ERA and its links to broader affective processes. The ERAM test can be used for both lab and online research, and is freely available for academic research.

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