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The effects of gender, age, schooling, and cultural background on the identification of facial emotions: a transcultural study

  • Leonardo Cruz de Souza (a1) (a2) (a3), Maxime Bertoux (a4), Ângelo Ribeiro Vaz de Faria (a3), Laiane Tábata Souza Corgosinho (a3), Ana Carolina de Almeida Prado (a3), Izabela Guimarães Barbosa (a1) (a3) (a5), Paulo Caramelli (a1) (a2), Enrico Colosimo (a6) and Antônio Lúcio Teixeira (a1) (a2) (a3)...



Social cognition tasks, such as identification of emotions, can contribute to the diagnosis of neuropsychiatric disorders. The wide use of Facial Emotion Recognition Test (FERT) is hampered by the absence of normative dataset and by the limited understanding of how demographic factors such as age, education, gender, and cultural background may influence the performance on the test.


We analyzed the influence of these variables in the performance in the FERT from the short version of the Social and Emotional Assessment. This task is composed by 35 pictures with 7 different emotions presented 5 times each. Cognitively healthy Brazilian participants (n = 203; 109 females and 94 males) underwent the FERT. We compared the performance of participants across gender, age, and educational subgroups. We also compared the performance of Brazilians with a group of French subjects (n = 60) matched for gender, age, and educational level.


There was no gender difference regarding the performance on total score and in each emotion subscore in the Brazilian sample. We found a significant effect of aging and schooling on the performance on the FERT, with younger and more educated subjects having higher scores. Brazilian and French participants did not differ in the FERT and its subscores. Normative data for employing the FERT in Brazilian population is presented.


Data here provided may contribute to the interpretation of the results of FERT in different cultural contexts and highlight the common bias that should be corrected in the future tasks to be developed.


Corresponding author

Correspondence should be addressed to: Leonardo Cruz de Souza, Faculdade de Medicina, Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais. Avenida Professor Alfredo Balena, no. 190/sl 243, Santa Efigênia, Belo Horizonte, MG CEP 30.130-100, Brazil. Phone number: + 55 31 3409 8073. E-mail:


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