New Northampton research on targeted intervention

EMPAC is pleased to be able to share some new open access research by Northampton University academic, Danny Ash, and colleagues Laura Hunnikin, Amy wells and Stephanie van Goozen. The research is all about better understanding some of the early triggers that can lead to ASB and crime. The particular attention here is looking at children and their early disruptive behaviour that might be better understood as linked to empathy impairment.

Here is the research abstract and there is hyper link below so you can access the whole journal submission (Vol.:(0123456789)1 3) in the Journal of European Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, free of charge. 

Childhood disruptive behaviour has been linked to later antisocial and criminal behaviour. Emotion recognition and empathy impairments, thought to be caused by inattention to the eye region, are hypothesised to contribute to antisocial and criminal behaviour.

This is the first study to simultaneously examine emotion recognition and empathy impairments, their relation-ship, and the mechanism behind these impairments, in children with disruptive behaviour. We hypothesised that children with disruptive behaviour would exhibit negative emotion recognition and cognitive and affective empathy impairments, but that these impairments would not be due to reduced attention to the eye region.

We expected these emotion impairments to be driven by disruptive behaviour. We also expected a relationship between emotion recognition and cognitive empathy only. Ninety-two children with disruptive behaviour, who were participating in a police crime prevention programme and rated by their schoolteacher using the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (DB; mean age 8.8 years, 80% male), took part. There was a comparison group of 58 typically developing children (TD; mean age 9.7 years, 78% male).

All children completed emotion recognition and empathy tasks, both with concurrent eye tracking to assess social attention. Not only were DB children significantly impaired in negative emotion and neutral emotion recognition, and in cognitive and affective empathy compared to the TD children, but severity of disruptive behaviour also predicted intensity of emotion impairments. There were no differences in social attention to the eye region. Negative emotion recognition and empathy impairments are already present in an identifiable group of children displaying disruptive behaviour. These findings provide evidence to encourage the use of targeted interventions. 

Click here to access the full report: