Cross-ethnic differences in perception of emotion in schizophrenia

John S. Brekke, Eri Nakagami, Kimmy S. Kee, Michael F. Green

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


Background: The purpose of this study was to examine cross-ethnic differences in Perception of Emotion (POE) in schizophrenia. POE is an emerging construct in schizophrenia and involves the recognition and accurate identification of emotion in the facial and vocal expression of others. It has been implicated as relevant to instrumental functioning in schizophrenia, as well as a potential core deficit or marker for the disorder. Studies have shown the role of culture in shaping the expression and perception of emotion in non-clinical samples. It was hypothesized that ethnic minorities would have lower POE scores than Caucasians, and that the differences on POE would remain significant after controlling for neurocognition. Method: Individuals, 131, diagnosed with schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder participated in the study. There were 59 Euro-American Caucasian, 56 were African-American, and 16 were Latino. Neurocognition was measured as a standardized sum of five neuropsychological measures. Perception of Emotion was measured with facial and voice recognition tasks. Results: Both Latinos and African-Americans scored lower on POE than Caucasians. The cross-ethnic differences on POE remained significant after controlling for neurocognition and overall symptom level. Post hoc analyses showed some support for the predictive validity of the POE measure across cultural contexts. Conclusions: These results suggest that POE in schizophrenia is influenced by ethnicity, and that the ethno-cultural mechanisms influencing POE transcend the shared variation of POE and neurocognition. These results have implications for theories of cross-cultural emotion recognition, measurement bias in POE research, and for the place of culture in the study of POE in schizophrenia.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)289-298
Number of pages10
JournalSchizophrenia Research
Issue number2-3
StatePublished - 15 Sep 2005
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by grants MH53282 and MH01628 from the National Institute of Mental Health awarded to the first author, and by the Department of Veterans Affairs VISN 22 Mental Illness Research Education and Clinical Center.


  • Culture
  • Ethnicity
  • Neurocognition
  • Perception of emotion
  • Schizophrenia


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