The University of Southampton
University of Southampton Institutional Repository

Investigating emotion recognition and empathy deficits in Conduct Disorder using behavioural and eye-tracking methods

Investigating emotion recognition and empathy deficits in Conduct Disorder using behavioural and eye-tracking methods
Investigating emotion recognition and empathy deficits in Conduct Disorder using behavioural and eye-tracking methods
The aim of this thesis was to characterise the nature of the emotion recognition and empathy deficits observed in male and female adolescents with Conduct Disorder (CD) and varying levels of callous-unemotional (CU) traits. The first two experiments employed behavioural tasks with concurrent eye-tracking methods to explore the mechanisms underlying facial and body expression recognition deficits. Having CD and being male independently predicted poorer facial expression recognition across all emotions, which held across both static and dynamic faces. Eye tracking data indicated that males showed reduced attention to the eye region of the face across all emotions, relative to females, with CD predicting lower levels of attention to the eyes for fearful, sad, and surprised faces. Critically, the deficits observed in facial emotion recognition were not explained by atypical eye movements in the CD group. Contrary to expectations, high levels of CU traits within the CD group were not associated with impaired recognition of fear or a reduced tendency to fixate the eye region of the face.

Males with CD exhibited global deficits in body expression recognition relative to male and female controls. These deficits held for both dynamic and static bodies and were not modulated by CU traits. Eye-tracking data demonstrated that having CD and being male were both related to a reduced tendency to fixate the arms of fearful and neutral bodies. Once again, deficits in body expression recognition were not explained by atypical eye movements in the CD group. Contrary to predictions, CU traits in the CD group were associated with an increased preference to fixate the arms. Taken together, these two eye-tracking studies indicate that adolescents with CD, and particularly males, show impairments in facial and body expression recognition that are not solely related to overt attentional mechanisms.

The final two experiments employed an empathic accuracy (EA) task that involved watching video clips of actors recounting emotionally-charged autobiographical experiences. Relative to control males, CD males showed deficits in sadness, fear, and disgust recognition, as well as reduced affective empathy for the same three emotions. In the second experiment, we found that CD females did not show significant deficits in emotion recognition but they did exhibit reduced affective empathy for fear and happiness. Contrary to predictions, CD adolescents showed an intact ability to track changes in emotional intensity (measure of EA). Although CU traits in males with CD were negatively correlated with EA for sadness, no other significant correlations with CU traits or differences between high and low CU traits subgroups were found in either study. The findings from this thesis have important implications for interventions aiming to remediate the emotion recognition and empathy deficits observed in CD, as well as approaches to subtyping CD.
University of Southampton
Martin-Key, Nayra, Anna
e80b0928-5b78-4e6a-a056-822104a5509f
Martin-Key, Nayra, Anna
e80b0928-5b78-4e6a-a056-822104a5509f
Fairchild, Graeme
f99bc911-978e-48c2-9754-c6460666a95f
Adams, Wendy
25685aaa-fc54-4d25-8d65-f35f4c5ab688
Graf, Erich
1a5123e2-8f05-4084-a6e6-837dcfc66209

Martin-Key, Nayra, Anna (2017) Investigating emotion recognition and empathy deficits in Conduct Disorder using behavioural and eye-tracking methods. University of Southampton, Doctoral Thesis, 239pp.

Record type: Thesis (Doctoral)

Abstract

The aim of this thesis was to characterise the nature of the emotion recognition and empathy deficits observed in male and female adolescents with Conduct Disorder (CD) and varying levels of callous-unemotional (CU) traits. The first two experiments employed behavioural tasks with concurrent eye-tracking methods to explore the mechanisms underlying facial and body expression recognition deficits. Having CD and being male independently predicted poorer facial expression recognition across all emotions, which held across both static and dynamic faces. Eye tracking data indicated that males showed reduced attention to the eye region of the face across all emotions, relative to females, with CD predicting lower levels of attention to the eyes for fearful, sad, and surprised faces. Critically, the deficits observed in facial emotion recognition were not explained by atypical eye movements in the CD group. Contrary to expectations, high levels of CU traits within the CD group were not associated with impaired recognition of fear or a reduced tendency to fixate the eye region of the face.

Males with CD exhibited global deficits in body expression recognition relative to male and female controls. These deficits held for both dynamic and static bodies and were not modulated by CU traits. Eye-tracking data demonstrated that having CD and being male were both related to a reduced tendency to fixate the arms of fearful and neutral bodies. Once again, deficits in body expression recognition were not explained by atypical eye movements in the CD group. Contrary to predictions, CU traits in the CD group were associated with an increased preference to fixate the arms. Taken together, these two eye-tracking studies indicate that adolescents with CD, and particularly males, show impairments in facial and body expression recognition that are not solely related to overt attentional mechanisms.

The final two experiments employed an empathic accuracy (EA) task that involved watching video clips of actors recounting emotionally-charged autobiographical experiences. Relative to control males, CD males showed deficits in sadness, fear, and disgust recognition, as well as reduced affective empathy for the same three emotions. In the second experiment, we found that CD females did not show significant deficits in emotion recognition but they did exhibit reduced affective empathy for fear and happiness. Contrary to predictions, CD adolescents showed an intact ability to track changes in emotional intensity (measure of EA). Although CU traits in males with CD were negatively correlated with EA for sadness, no other significant correlations with CU traits or differences between high and low CU traits subgroups were found in either study. The findings from this thesis have important implications for interventions aiming to remediate the emotion recognition and empathy deficits observed in CD, as well as approaches to subtyping CD.

Text
N Martin-Key - Final Thesis - Version of Record
Available under License University of Southampton Thesis Licence.
Download (5MB)

More information

Published date: January 2017
Organisations: University of Southampton, Psychology

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 411247
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/411247
PURE UUID: c591f987-050c-4c79-86f6-c5f18035538b
ORCID for Graeme Fairchild: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0001-7814-9938
ORCID for Wendy Adams: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0002-5832-1056
ORCID for Erich Graf: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0002-3162-4233

Catalogue record

Date deposited: 15 Jun 2017 16:33
Last modified: 14 Mar 2019 01:43

Export record

Contributors

Author: Nayra, Anna Martin-Key
Thesis advisor: Graeme Fairchild ORCID iD
Thesis advisor: Wendy Adams ORCID iD
Thesis advisor: Erich Graf ORCID iD

University divisions

Download statistics

Downloads from ePrints over the past year. Other digital versions may also be available to download e.g. from the publisher's website.

View more statistics

Atom RSS 1.0 RSS 2.0

Contact ePrints Soton: eprints@soton.ac.uk

ePrints Soton supports OAI 2.0 with a base URL of http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/cgi/oai2

This repository has been built using EPrints software, developed at the University of Southampton, but available to everyone to use.

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you continue without changing your settings, we will assume that you are happy to receive cookies on the University of Southampton website.

×