Currently there is a very limited understanding of how mental wellbeing versus anxiety and depression symptoms are associated with emotion processing behaviour. For the first time, we examined these associations using a behavioural emotion task of positive and negative facial expressions in 1668 healthy adult twins. Linear mixed model results suggested faster reaction times to happy facial expressions was associated with higher wellbeing scores, and slower reaction times with higher depression and anxiety scores. Multivariate twin modelling identified a significant genetic correlation between depression and anxiety symptoms and reaction time to happy facial expressions, in the absence of any significant correlations with wellbeing. We also found a significant negative phenotypic relationship between depression and anxiety symptoms and accuracy for identifying neutral emotions, although the genetic or environment correlations were not significant in the multivariate model. Overall, the phenotypic relationships between speed of identifying happy facial expressions and wellbeing on the one hand, versus depression and anxiety symptoms on the other, were in opposing directions. Twin modelling revealed a small common genetic correlation between response to happy faces and depression and anxiety symptoms alone, suggesting that wellbeing and depression and anxiety symptoms show largely independent relationships with emotion processing at the behavioral level.
- Emotion processing