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01-03-2014 | Uitgave 1/2014 Open Access

Journal of Psychopathology and Behavioral Assessment 1/2014

Young Offenders’ Emotion Recognition Dysfunction Across Emotion Intensities: Explaining Variation Using Psychopathic Traits, Conduct Disorder and Offense Severity

Tijdschrift:
Journal of Psychopathology and Behavioral Assessment > Uitgave 1/2014
Auteurs:
Katharine L. Bowen, Joanne E. Morgan, Simon C. Moore, Stephanie H. M. van Goozen

Abstract

Antisocial individuals have problems recognizing negative emotions (e.g. Marsh & Blair in Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews 32:454–465, 2009); however, due to issues with sampling and different methods used, previous findings have been varied. Sixty-three male young offenders and 37 age-, IQ- and socio-economic status-matched male controls completed a facial emotion recognition task, which measures recognition of happiness, sadness, fear, anger, disgust, and surprise and neutral expressions across 4 emotional intensities. Conduct disorder (YSR), and psychopathic and callous/unemotional traits (YPI) were measured, and offenders’ offense data were taken from the Youth Offending Service’s case files. Relative to controls, offenders were significantly worse at identifying sadness, low intensity disgust and high intensity fear. A significant interaction for anger was also observed, with offenders showing reduced low- but increased high-intensity anger recognition in comparison with controls. Within the young offenders levels of conduct disorder and psychopathic traits explained variation in sadness and disgust recognition, whereas offense severity explained variation in anger recognition. These results suggest that antisocial youths show specific problems in recognizing negative emotions and support the use of targeted emotion recognition interventions for problematic behavior.

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