Western Undergraduate Psychology Journal

Article Title

When You Smile, Do I Smile? A Proposed Study Examining Conscious Level Emotion Regulation in a Developmental Sample


The ability to conceal a proponent emotional response and instead, express a more socially appropriate facial expression has had phylogenetic and ontogenetic advantages throughout human evolution and development. Understanding the developmental trajectory of this type of emotion regulation is imperative and can be empirically examined using a facial mimicry paradigm to study inhibitory control. Facial mimicry enables an individual to imitate the emotional expression of a social other, whereas inhibitory control examines an individual’s ability to suppress a dominant responses in favour of a correct response. The present paper proposes a paradigm during which individuals are instructed to imitate the opposite facial expression of that displayed on a screen. In addition, the neural correlates of emotion regulation are proposed to be simultaneously measured using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). Expected results are discussed with a critical focus on clinical implications for individuals with deficits in emotion regulation, in particular, those with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) and individuals prone to psychopathic symptoms in adulthood.

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