, Volume 23, Issue 1, pp 13-22
Date: 09 Apr 2013

Emotion recognition in girls with conduct problems

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A deficit in emotion recognition has been suggested to underlie conduct problems. Although several studies have been conducted on this topic so far, most concentrated on male participants. The aim of the current study was to compare recognition of morphed emotional faces in girls with conduct problems (CP) with elevated or low callous-unemotional (CU+ vs. CU−) traits and a matched healthy developing control group (CG). Sixteen girls with CP-CU+, 16 girls with CP-CU− and 32 controls (mean age: 13.23 years, SD = 2.33 years) were included. Video clips with morphed faces were presented in two runs to assess emotion recognition. Multivariate analysis of variance with the factors group and run was performed. Girls with CP-CU− needed more time than the CG to encode sad, fearful, and happy faces and they correctly identified sadness less often. Girls with CP-CU+ outperformed the other groups in the identification of fear. Learning effects throughout runs were the same for all groups except that girls with CP-CU− correctly identified fear less often in the second run compared to the first run. Results need to be replicated with comparable tasks, which might result in subgroup-specific therapeutic recommendations.