Expression recognition and behavioural problems in early adolescence

Robert James Richard Blair, Melanie Coles

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

173 Scopus citations


The processing of emotional expressions is fundamental for normal socialisation and social interaction. Fifty-five children (aged 11-14 years) in mainstream education participated in this study. They were presented with a standardised set of pictures of facial expressions and asked to name one of the six emotions illustrated (sadness, happiness, anger, disgust, fear, and surprise). Following experimental testing, their behaviour was rated by two independent teachers on the Psychopathy Screening Device (PSD). The PSD assesses two dimensions of behavioral problems: affective-interpersonal disturbance and impulsive behaviour/conduct problems. The results showed that the ability to recognise sad and fearful expressions (but not happy, angry, disgusted, or surprised expressions) was inversely related to both level of affective-interpersonal disturbance and impulsive/conduct problems. These results are interpreted with reference to current models of empathy and its disorders.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)421-434
Number of pages14
JournalCognitive Development
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2000
Externally publishedYes


  • Emotion
  • Facial expressions
  • Psychopathic tendencies
  • Vocal tones

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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