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13-03-2020 | Original Article | Uitgave 5/2020 Open Access

Child Psychiatry & Human Development 5/2020

Emotion Processing in Children with Conduct Problems and Callous-Unemotional Traits: An Investigation of Speed, Accuracy, and Attention

Child Psychiatry & Human Development > Uitgave 5/2020
Daniela Hartmann, Christina Schwenck
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The online version of this article (https://​doi.​org/​10.​1007/​s10578-020-00976-9) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.

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This study aimed to assess whether callous-unemotional traits (CU) are associated with deficits in emotion recognition independent of externalizing behavior and whether such deficits can be explained by aberrant attention. As previous studies have produced inconsistent results, the current study included two different emotion recognition paradigms and assessed the potential influence of factors such as processing speed and attention. The study included N = 94 children (eight to 14 years) with an oversampling of children with conduct problems (CP) and varying levels of CU-traits. Independent of externalizing behavior, CU-traits were associated with slower recognition of angry, sad and fearful facial expressions but not with higher error rates. There was no evidence that the association between CU-traits and emotion processing could be explained by misguided attention. Our results implicate that in children with high levels of CU-traits emotion recognition deficits depend on deficits in processing speed.

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