Assessment of facial emotion encoding and decoding skills in children with and without oral clefts

Keith J. Slifer, Tanya Diver, Adrianna Amari, Jeffrey F. Cohn, Lisa Hilley, Melissa Beck, Sharon McDonnell, Alane Kane

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: Investigated the facial emotion decoding and encoding skills and perceived social acceptance in children with and without oral clefts. Patients: 8-15 year-old children with surgically repaired facial clefts (n = 19) and non-cleft controls (n = 19). Methods: The children viewed photographs of facial emotions expressed by other children and identified the emotion in each photograph. They were videotaped while listening to a series of brief vignettes designed to evoke facial emotions and while posing prototypic facial expressions. They also completed a measure of their perceived social acceptance. Judges, blind to experimental group and targeted emotion, viewed systematically sampled video images, then recorded their subjective judgement of the emotion expressed in each. Trained coders also scored selected images using objective measures of the degree to which specific facial movements associated with emotion-specified expressions were present. Results: Analysis of variance procedures detected significantly different patterns of facial responses between the oral cleft and control groups, and within group. Pearson correlation analyses found significant relationships between specific facial movements and perceived social acceptance. Conclusion: Systematic assessment of facial expression in children with oral clefts can identify unique differences in their encoding of facial emotion and may lead to behavioural interventions to improve social functioning by training facial expression skills.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)304-315
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Cranio-Maxillofacial Surgery
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 2003


  • Child behavior
  • Cleft lip
  • Cleft palate
  • Facial expression

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Oral Surgery
  • Otorhinolaryngology


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