New Publication: Tracking the emotional highs, but missing the lows: Hypomania Risk is associated with positively biased empathic accuracy inference

How might humans’ ability to accurately perceive others’ emotions—empathic accuracy—be affected in mood disorders? For example, people suffering from mania, a common symptom of bipolar disorder, often report feeling more positive emotions and having more positive experiences: do these symptoms affect how others are perceived? A recent study, done by Prof Jamil Zaki and PhD student Desmond Ong in collaboration with Hillary Devlin and June Gruber, looked at how risk for mania is associated with empathic accuracy. The study finds that people who report higher hypomania risk were more sensitive to, and hence more accurate in detecting, positive changes in others’ emotions. Retrospectively, however, these people also rate others as feeling overly-positive compared to how those others actually feel. Thus, the findings provide a more nuanced look at empathic accuracy in people who report higher levels of hypomania risk: they might be more sensitive and more accurate in judging others’ positive emotions in the moment, but less accurate after the fact. For a complete list of SSNL publications, click here.