Background: Alcoholism is associated with cognitive deficits which affect social functioning. Previous research has shown that alcoholism is associated with deficits in conscious, deliberate social processing. However, little is known about whether alcoholism also affects rapid, spontaneous processing. We therefore investigated the extent to which alcoholism affects the ability to spontaneously adopt the viewpoint of another in a visuo-spatial perspective taking (VSPT) task. Methods: VSPT was measured in participants responding to a dot probe presented for 35ms alongside neutral faces, fearful faces and baseline stimuli (rectangles). Results: Alcohol dependent (AD) participants showed the standard reaction time cost to fearful faces, but not neutral faces relative to baseline. However, AD participants showed a reaction time cost to both fearful and neutral faces. Conclusions: AD participants are not impaired in their ability to automatically adopt the perspective of another. However, unlike non-AD participants, they show automatic perspective taking to both neutral and fearful faces.
Riggs, K., Simpson, A., Chandler, C., & Cox, S. (2016). The effect of alcohol dependence on automatic visuo-spatial perspective taking. Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 166, 21-25. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2016.06.007