Child Psychiatry and Human Development

, Volume 38, Issue 2, pp 155–169 | Cite as

State and Trait Emotions in Delinquent Adolescents

  • Belinda Plattner
  • Niranjan Karnik
  • Booil Jo
  • Rebecca E. Hall
  • Astrid Schallauer
  • Victor Carrion
  • Martha Feucht
  • Hans Steiner
Original Paper



To examine the structure of emotions and affective dysregulation in juvenile delinquents.


Fifty-six juvenile delinquents from a local juvenile hall and 169 subjects from a local high school were recruited for this study. All participants completed psychometric testing for trait emotions followed by measurements of state emotions under two conditions (free association and stress condition). Finally, delinquent participants completed a detailed assessment of past trauma using the Childhood Trauma Interview (CTI).


Delinquents exhibit significantly higher levels of negative state and trait emotions when compared to a high school sample. In the delinquent sample chronicity of physical trauma affects the longstanding variable of trait emotionality and severity of trauma, specifically emotional abuse and witnessing violence, shapes negative emotional outcomes in state emotionality. In addition, delinquents appear to experience a wider range of emotions than the comparison sample and were more likely to experience a confluence of state emotions of sadness and anger under stressed conditions.


Adolescent delinquents appear to have a different experience of negative emotions than comparison adolescents. The experience of emotions appears to differ in state and trait conditions. These emotions may be related to childhood experiences of trauma.


Delinquency Emotions Trauma 


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This research was supported by a grant to Dr. Plattner by the Austrian Justizministerium; an NIMH grant 5T32 MH19908–03 and an Eli Lilly Pilot Research Award to Dr.␣Carrion; grants to Dr. Steiner by the Eucalyptus Foundation, the Constance Bultman Wilson Foundation and The California Wellness Foundation Violence Prevention Initiative. There are no financial ties with profit enterprises associated with this study. Thank you to Professor Helena Kraemer, Professor of Biostatistics in Psychiatry, for her statistical expertise.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Belinda Plattner
    • 1
  • Niranjan Karnik
    • 2
  • Booil Jo
    • 2
  • Rebecca E. Hall
    • 2
  • Astrid Schallauer
    • 1
  • Victor Carrion
    • 2
  • Martha Feucht
    • 1
  • Hans Steiner
    • 2
  1. 1.Medizinische Universität WienUniversitätsklinik für Neuropsychiatrie des Kindes und JugendaltersViennaAustria
  2. 2.Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral SciencesStanford University School of MedicineStanfordUSA

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