Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Violent teenage girls fail to spot anger or disgust in others’ faces

Date:
May 13, 2010
Source:
University of Cambridge
Summary:
Girls appear to be "protected" from showing antisocial behaviour until their teenage years, new research has found. The study sheds new light on antisocial behavior in girls compared with boys and suggests that rather than violence or antisocial behavior simply reflecting bad choices, the brains of people with antisocial behavior may work differently from those who behave normally.

Girls appear to be "protected" from showing antisocial behaviour until their teenage years, new research from the University of Cambridge has found.

The study sheds new light on antisocial behaviour in girls compared with boys and suggests that rather than violence or antisocial behaviour simply reflecting bad choices, the brains of people with antisocial behaviour may work differently from those who behave normally.

Until now, little research has been done on antisocial behaviour (Conduct Disorder) in girls. According to Dr Graeme Fairchild of the University of Cambridge, one of the study's authors: "Almost nothing is known about the neuropsychology of severe antisocial behaviour in girls. Although less common in girls than boys, UK crime figures show that serious violence is increasing sharply in female adolescents."

The study, published online this month in Biological Psychiatry, compared a group of 25 girls, aged 14-18 years-old, with high levels of antisocial and/or violent behaviour with a group of 30 healthy controls.

"Most of our participants had major difficulties controlling their temper, lashing out and breaking things around their homes when they got angry, and had often been involved in serious fights. Several had convictions for violent offences and some had been to prison for assault," Dr Fairchild explains.

Dr Fairchild and colleagues measured the girls' ability to recognise the six primary facial expressions -- anger, disgust, sadness, fear, surprise and happiness. They found that girls with antisocial behaviour made a large number of errors when asked to recognise anger and disgust, but had no problems recognising other facial expressions.

According to Dr Fairchild: "Our findings suggest that antisocial behaviour or violence may not simply reflect bad choices but that, at some level, the brains of individuals with antisocial behaviour may work differently. This might make it harder for them to read emotions in others -- particularly to realise that someone is angry with them -- and to learn from punishment."

The study also shows that although girls and boys with severe antisocial behaviour have the same problems recognising emotions, the girls -- whose problems began when they were teenagers -- more closely resembled boys whose antisocial behaviour began in childhood.

Boys with childhood-onset Conduct Disorder have difficulties recognising anger and disgust, but those with adolescence-onset Conduct Disorder do not.

"This suggests that there are interesting differences in antisocial behaviour between girls and boys, with girls being protected from showing antisocial behaviour until their teenage years for reasons we don't yet understand," Dr Fairchild says.

The next phase of the research involves a brain scanning study. "As far as we know, this will be the first functional neuroimaging study ever carried out in girls with severe antisocial behaviour," Dr Fairchild says.

Around five percent of school-age children would meet criteria for Conduct Disorder, but it is approximately three to four times more common in boys than girls. A range of factors -- ranging from physical abuse in childhood to being diagnosed with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder -- make it more likely that someone will develop Conduct Disorder.

It is difficult to treat using psychological therapy, and there are no effective drug treatments, but a new form of therapy called Multi-Systemic Therapy is currently being trialled in the UK and shows promise in treating antisocial behaviour.

The research was funded by the Wellcome Trust.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Cambridge. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Graeme Fairchild, Yvette Stobbe, Stephanie H.M. van Goozen, Andrew J. Calder, Ian M. Goodyer. Facial Expression Recognition, Fear Conditioning, and Startle Modulation in Female Subjects with Conduct Disorder. Biological Psychiatry, 2010; DOI: 10.1016/j.biopsych.2010.02.019

Cite This Page:

University of Cambridge. "Violent teenage girls fail to spot anger or disgust in others’ faces." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 13 May 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/05/100510150223.htm>.
University of Cambridge. (2010, May 13). Violent teenage girls fail to spot anger or disgust in others’ faces. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 2, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/05/100510150223.htm
University of Cambridge. "Violent teenage girls fail to spot anger or disgust in others’ faces." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/05/100510150223.htm (accessed August 2, 2014).

Share This




More Mind & Brain News

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Work Can Be Stressful, But Is Unemployment Worse?

Work Can Be Stressful, But Is Unemployment Worse?

Newsy (Aug. 1, 2014) A new study shows stress at work can be hard on your health, but people who are unemployed might be at even greater risk of health problems. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Google (Kind Of) Complies With 'Right To Be Forgotten Law'

Google (Kind Of) Complies With 'Right To Be Forgotten Law'

Newsy (July 31, 2014) Google says it is following Europe's new "Right To Be Forgotten Law," which eliminates user information upon request, but only to a certain degree. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Stroke Signs: Three Hour Deadline

Stroke Signs: Three Hour Deadline

Ivanhoe (July 31, 2014) Sometimes the signs of a stroke are far from easy to recognize. Learn from one young father’s story on the signs of a stroke. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com
Grain Brain May Be Harming Us

Grain Brain May Be Harming Us

Ivanhoe (July 31, 2014) Could eating carbohydrates be harmful to our brain health? Find out what one neurologist says about changing our diets. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins