Publication details for Dr Luna CentifantiMuñoz, L.C. (2009). Callous-unemotional traits are related to combined deficits in recognizing afraid faces and body poses. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry 48(5): 554-562.
- Publication type: Journal papers: academic
- ISSN/ISBN: 0890-8567
- DOI: 10.1097/CHI.0b013e31819c2419
- Keywords: Callous-unemotional traits, Emotion recognition, Violence.
- View online: Online version
- Durham research online: DRO record
Author(s) from Durham
The aim of the present study was to examine accuracy in labeling body poses conveying fear. Youths with callous-unemotional traits experience emotional processing deficits seemingly on par with deficits showed by patients with amygdala damage. That is, there is growing evidence that children with callous-unemotional traits have problems recognizing afraid emotional expressions. Although people with amygdala damage show deficits in labeling afraid faces, they have an intact ability to label afraid body poses.
Boys (N = 55; ages 8-16 years) from a community center were recruited to label emotional faces and static body poses and to complete the Inventory of Callous-Unemotional Traits and a measure of violence and antisocial behavior.
Callous-unemotional traits were related to poorer accuracy when labeling afraid faces and afraid body postures. However, when response bias was taken into account, callous-unemotional traits were related to deficits in many facial expressions. Notably, the combination of poorly labeling afraid faces and body poses was linked to the highest levels of callous-unemotional traits and violence.
Findings support a generalized deficit in processing displays of fear that are not specific to faces. The results support the argument that a general “fear-blindness” is related to a lack of empathy and to violence and antisocial behavior. Methodological issues with regard to deciding whether people are accurately labeling fear and other emotions are discussed. However, early identification of fear deficits that affect multiple modalities is argued to be important for clinical intervention.