August 13, 2007

Facial Expressions Test - Try it

People who have schizophrenia, and also their biological relatives, tend to have a difficult time interpreting and understanding facial expressions and emotions. Dr. Sophia Vinogradov and her team at the University of San Francisco have been testing means of improving people's "social cognition" via software developed by Dr. Paul Ekman. Early results indicate that this type off software does help improve symptoms in schizophrenia. Other researchers have suggested that this type of software might also be helpful in reducing the risk of schizophrenia in people who are predisposed.

Following is a relatively simple demonstration of the software. It is based on "The Micro Expression Training Tool" developed by Paul Ekman, PH.D., a professor of psychology at the University of California Medical School in San Francisco. We think you might find it interesting to try out.

Test it and let us know what you think of it. (Note - and Advertisement might pop up when you go to the page - try to click on the "skip ad" link so you can go directly to the facial expression test). Its a challenging test and so I think it would be best to try it once a week for a few weeks to see how you can improve over time.

Facial Expressions Test - try it

Related Reading:

Emotion Recognition is Impaired in "Healthy" Siblings of People With Schizophrenia

Dr. Paul Eckman's Web Site - where you can purchase his facial expression training software.


Took the test , only got two correct , i think it has potential but felt that their arent enough choice buttons to describe the expressions , a lot of them were the same.Or maybe their correct and i couldn't judge them properly?

Posted by: Salty Davis at August 13, 2007 11:49 AM

I think I read people very well, however I think this test was extremely difficult and I don't have any type of mental illness. It makes me wonder about the validity of it to measure mental illness.
But it was fun to take.

Posted by: mybabygirl at August 13, 2007 12:50 PM

I got 3 wrong responses. The test is quite difficult, you know, their facial expressions seem not that typical, so it is really difficult to tell. And I don't have any type of mental illness. I doubt a liite that the test is helpful in reducing the risk of schizophrenia.

Posted by: Hao at August 13, 2007 06:41 PM

I only got one right the first time and then when I "freezed" the picture of their faces by pressing a number on the keyboard I got all of them right...

Obviously this test mesures how fast you register. Normally the reaction time is longer. At least this is my experience.

Posted by: stefan at August 14, 2007 12:39 PM

I'll have to try it again and do what you did Stefan

Posted by: Salty Davis at August 14, 2007 01:25 PM

I also had a difficult time with this test until I froze the image. Once I froze it, I got them all right.

My Mother has paranoid schizophrenia as did her Father. I do not have schizophrenia. I consider myself excellent at reading faces however, I will never be great at reading someone *that* quickly.

I agree with the other poster that wrote, "It makes me wonder about the validity of it to measure mental illness."

Posted by: Lisa_911 at August 14, 2007 05:27 PM

Lisa - I've never heard any researchers say that this is a way to measure mental illness - and i doubt that is true. Rather - reseachers believe that it might be a way to help reduce the symptoms of schizophrenia (the full software from Dr. Ekman - not this little demonstration of the software), and it might also lower someone's risk for developing schizophrenia because they can more accurately read people's face in social situations - thereby improving their social skills.

Posted by: SzAdministrator at August 14, 2007 06:39 PM

O.K. I glance daily, due to the fact I have a profoundly schizophrenic/bipolar teenage son(who's been ill for a good 8 years)with a chronic mix of OCD, anxiety, paranoia and a dash of severe depression. I chose to take the test and bombed! I'm a successful teacher and counselor and have been advocating for the mentally ill, their parents and others for years. It appears the test is skewed or perhaps there is more than enough evidence that I'm 'just a bit more fuctional' than my non-functional son. If this was supposed to give caretakers hope, it failed dismally. If one must 'cheat' to recognize the emotions and expression, than it certainly failed its intention. Next time, please, try not to re-stigmatize the plight of the seriously mentally ill! If typical folk have trouble with this test, what will SMI folk do? However, what soothes me is the knowledge that my son would never go to this site. If he did, he would get more despondant, hopeless and yet another reason to end his life. But fortunately, this site has delivered for me! Thanks for the majority of useful information.

Posted by: sue lord at August 17, 2007 12:20 AM

My girlfriend was much better than me and managed to read their faces and she didn´t have to freeze the pictures. If it´s possible to learn something like this I will probably try it!

Posted by: Stefan at August 18, 2007 01:39 PM

I got them all right although I had to flash two of them twice. Given my family history I should have missed them all. I also question the premise that this type of training might be able to prevent sz. On the extreme end of the sz spectrum where sypmptoms are so severe that the biological roots of "damage" to the brain is so evident that its make a near irrefutable case for the biological root cause, this sounds like something in the "environmental/freudian" relm of theory - which profoundly irritates me. I think that failure to properly interpret facial expressions is "autistic" in nature and this is probably relavant to the overlap of shared profiles of symptoms and cognitive deficits among various brain disorders. I don't think there is anyone out there suggesting that autism can be prevented by environmental intervention of this nature. Some people out there just don't draw the right conclusions from evidence. Yes, this evidence is presenting itself but are the right implications of the evidence being theorized?

Children are less able to understand subtleties in verbal communication as well (e.i. things like thinly vield insults, scarcasms or dbl entendres, concealed intents, pre-texes). I think that these deficits probably afflict many people who have no trace of sz in their recent family history.

Posted by: Jen at August 20, 2007 05:10 PM

Just to append my comment........since my edit didn't take:
It could even be that the capacity to intepret subtle meaings in verbal
communication or to correctly interpret visual clues might even be
overstated in some people with sz.)I say some people because sz is just
generic dx. This overstatement might even be represented by paranoia or
the grossly distored faces sometimes seen by people w/ sz. How can faces
that are distored be interpreted within the context of a world in which those
images exist only in someone's mind- not the "real" world.

This all only means that, like a database, the researcher has to develop one-to-many relationships to a piece of evidence, like facial recognition, and its many possible meanings so that quack intervention theories don't get prematurely hatched.

Only a closed mind rejects things outright so I don't reject - I just don't think this one has too much credence right now.

Posted by: jen at August 20, 2007 05:30 PM

Of course, there are many different problems that get lumped into the label "mental illness" and "schizophrenia". My daughter with the schizoaffective label excelled at reading micro-expressions and has always been extremely socially aware and empathetic.

I, on the other hand, seem rather socially clueless - but not because I cannot understand facial expressions. The only ones I got wrong on this test were the two for "contempt".

Obviously - the focus on social skills, emotions, etc. would not help my daughter nor other members of my family, as other members of my family with SZ were also quite socially aware with a high degree of "emotional intelligence".


Posted by: Naomi at August 21, 2007 07:11 AM

I found the facial expression 'changes' flashed too quickly for me to really see them, so I got a lot of them wrong

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