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Automatic visual-spatial perspective taking in alcohol-dependence: A study with happy emotional faces

Cox, Sharon; Maurage, Pierre; O'Connor, Richard; Chandler, Chris; Riggs, Kevin


Sharon Cox

Pierre Maurage

Chris Chandler


Background: Understanding the world from another’s perspective is an important and potentially automatic human process which is crucial for efficient social interactions. However, whilst deficits have been repeatedly described for various interpersonal abilities in alcohol-dependence (AD), only one previous study has investigated perspective taking in this pathology.

Aim: The aim of the current study was to explore further how AD affects visual-spatial perspective taking (VSPT) by examining the effect of positive emotional stimuli on VSPT in both an AD and non-AD sample.

Methods: Reaction times (RT) for simple spatial judgements were measured. Participants made these judgements from their own perspective, but judgements were either congruent or incongruent with the perspective of another agent. The emotion conveyed by that agent (happy or neutral) was manipulated across trials.

Results: Compared to baseline, both AD and non-AD groups displayed delayed RTs for spatial judgements when these were incongruent with the perspective of a happy agent (the expected VSPT RT cost, indicating automatic VSPT). The AD, but not the non-AD group, further displayed a VSPT RT cost when the agent expressed a neutral emotion.

Conclusion: There was no evidence that automatic VSPT was compromised by AD. However, as in previous research, AD was associated with differences in the processing of emotional stimuli. Future research should explore which ‘real-world’ settings are likely to trigger social confusion and misunderstanding.


Cox, S., Maurage, P., O'Connor, R., Chandler, C., & Riggs, K. (2018). Automatic visual-spatial perspective taking in alcohol-dependence: A study with happy emotional faces. Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 190, 42-45.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date May 22, 2018
Online Publication Date Jun 26, 2018
Publication Date Sep 1, 2018
Deposit Date May 25, 2018
Publicly Available Date Jun 27, 2019
Print ISSN 0376-8716
Electronic ISSN 1879-0046
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 190
Pages 42-45
Keywords Alcohol-dependence, social processing, perspective taking, emotion
Public URL
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