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04-11-2019 | Uitgave 2/2020 Open Access

Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology 2/2020

Children with Behavioural Problems Misinterpret the Emotions and Intentions of Others

Tijdschrift:
Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology > Uitgave 2/2020
Auteurs:
Amy E. Wells, Laura M. Hunnikin, Daniel P. Ash, Stephanie H. M. van Goozen
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Electronic supplementary material

The online version of this article (https://​doi.​org/​10.​1007/​s10802-019-00594-7) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.

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Abstract

Research indicates that the misinterpretation of other’s emotions or intentions may lead to antisocial behaviour. This study investigated emotion and intention recognition in children with behavioural problems and examined their relationship and relations with behaviour problem severity. Participants were 7–11 year old children with behavioural problems (n = 93, mean age: 8.78, 82.8% male) who were taking part in an early intervention program and typically developing controls (n = 44, mean age: 9.82, 79.5% male). Participants completed emotion recognition and Theory of Mind tasks. Teachers and parents rated children’s emotional and behavioural problems. Children with behavioural problems showed impaired emotion and intention recognition. Emotion recognition and intention recognition were positively related and inversely associated with behavioural problem severity and, independently of one another, predicted behavioural problems. This study is the first to show that children with behavioural problems are impaired in identifying others’ emotions as well as intentions. These social cognitive processes were found to be related and inversely associated with severity of behavioural problems. This has important implications for intervention and prevention programmes for children with behavioural difficulties.

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