Psychological distress and attentional bias toward acne lesions in patients with acne

In Seon Lee, Ah Rhem Lee, Hyejung Lee, Hi Joon Park, Sun Yong Chung, Christian Wallraven, Isabelle Bülthoff, Younbyoung Chae

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


Acne vulgaris is a common inflammatory disease that manifests on the face and affects appearance. In general, facial acne has a wide-ranging negative impact on the psychosocial functioning of acne sufferers and leaves physical and emotional scars. In the present study, we investigated whether patients with acne vulgaris demonstrate enhanced psychological bias when assessing the attractiveness of faces with acne symptoms and whether they devote greater selective attention to acne lesions than to acne-free (control) individuals. Participants viewed images of faces under two different skin (acne vs. acne-free) and emotional facial expression (happy and neutral) conditions. They rated the attractiveness of the faces, and the time spent fixating on the acne lesions was recorded with an eye tracker. We found that the gap in perceived attractiveness between acne and acne-free faces was greater for acne sufferers. Furthermore, patients with acne fixated longer on facial regions exhibiting acne lesions than did control participants irrespective of the facial expression depicted. In summary, patients with acne have a stronger attentional bias for acne lesions and focus more on the skin lesions than do those without acne. Clinicians treating the skin problems of patients with acne should consider these psychological and emotional scars.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)680-686
Number of pages7
JournalPsychology, Health and Medicine
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2014 Nov 1


  • Acne vulgaris
  • Attractiveness
  • Eye movement
  • Selective attention

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Applied Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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