Alcohol Intoxication Impairs Recognition of Fear and Sadness in Others and Metacognitive Awareness of Emotion Recognition Ability

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Abstract

Alcohol intoxication is linked to negative social behaviors, but the mechanisms underlying this relationship are poorly understood. We investigated the effects of high-dose alcohol intoxication on the ability to perceive a range of basic emotions (sad, happy, anger, disgust, fear, and surprise) of different intensities, and on self-appraisals of emotion perception ability (i.e., metacognitive judgments). Sixty-four participants consumed either an alcohol or placebo beverage. An emotion recognition task was used to assess emotion perception ability, and participants provided confidence ratings when providing each emotion recognition response. Alcohol-intoxicated individuals demonstrated a reduced ability to detect fear and sadness at moderate-to-high levels of emotion intensity and less overall insight into their ability to recognize emotions. These results provide new insights into the possible difficulties experienced by alcohol-intoxicated individuals in perceiving emotions in others and the limited capacity to monitor their emotion perception abilities, both of which may contribute to inappropriate social responding.

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