Genuine and non-genuine smiles in individuals meeting criteria for a clinical high-risk syndrome

Jordyn R. Ricard*, Tina Gupta, Teresa Vargas, Claudia M. Haase, Vijay A. Mittal

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Aim: Psychosis is characterized by both alterations in emotional functioning and environmental stressors including bullying victimization. Recent evidence suggests that some alterations in emotional functioning (e.g., blunted positive facial expressions) are already present in the psychosis risk period. Yet, some clinically relevant facial emotions have not been investigated such as genuine smiles (thought to reflect genuine positive emotions) and non-genuine smiles (thought to fake positive or mask negative emotions) in individuals meeting criteria for a clinical high-risk (CHR) syndrome. Further, despite a compelling conceptual basis to suggest a link between affective expression and exposure to environmental stress, to date, no investigations have sought to examine this association. Here, we aim to assess differences between a sample of CHR (N = 65) and control (N = 67) individuals in genuine and non-genuine smiles and associations with bullying victimization. Methods: Smiles (i.e., genuine; non-genuine) were objectively coded on a second-by-second basis using the Facial Action Coding System during a digitally recorded clinical interview segment. Bullying victimization was measured via parent report. Results: Findings revealed that the CHR group (1) showed blunted genuine (but not non-genuine) smiles compared to controls. Moreover, (2) bullying victimization was related to blunted genuine smiles, but not non-genuine smiles. Conclusion: These findings expand our understanding of emotional alterations in this group with implications for diagnosis (highlighting blunted genuine smiles as a specific marker) and etiology (underscoring the role of bullying victimization in the etiology of emotional dysfunction).

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalEarly Intervention in Psychiatry
StateAccepted/In press - 2021


  • bullying victimization
  • clinical high-risk
  • genuine and non-genuine smiles
  • positive emotions
  • psychosis spectrum

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Phychiatric Mental Health
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry


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