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Facial emotion recognition in adopted children

Paine, Amy L. ORCID:, van Goozen, Stephanie H. M. ORCID:, Burley, Daniel T., Anthony, Rebecca ORCID: and Shelton, Katherine H. ORCID: 2023. Facial emotion recognition in adopted children. European Child and Adolescent Psychiatry 32 , pp. 87-99. 10.1007/s00787-021-01829-z

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Children adopted from public care are more likely to experience emotional and behavioural problems. We investigated two aspects of emotion recognition that may be associated with these outcomes, including discrimination accuracy of emotions and response bias, in a mixed-method, multi-informant study of 4-to-8-year old children adopted from local authority care in the UK (N = 42). We compared adopted children’s emotion recognition performance to that of a comparison group of children living with their birth families, who were matched by age, sex, and teacher-rated total difficulties on the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ, N = 42). We also examined relationships between adopted children’s emotion recognition skills and their pre-adoptive histories of early adversity (indexed by cumulative adverse childhood experiences), their parent- and teacher-rated emotional and behavioural problems, and their parents’ coded warmth during a Five Minute Speech Sample. Adopted children showed significantly worse facial emotion discrimination accuracy of sad and angry faces than non-adopted children. Adopted children’s discrimination accuracy of scared and neutral faces was negatively associated with parent-reported behavioural problems, and discrimination accuracy of angry and scared faces was associated with parent- and teacher-reported emotional problems. Contrary to expectations, children who experienced more recorded pre-adoptive early adversity were more accurate in identifying negative emotions. Warm adoptive parenting was associated with fewer behavioural problems, and a lower tendency for children to incorrectly identify faces as angry. Study limitations and implications for intervention strategies to support adopted children’s emotion recognition and psychological adjustment are discussed.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Social Sciences (Includes Criminology and Education)
Development and Evaluation of Complex Interventions for Public Health Improvement (DECIPHer)
Publisher: Springer
ISSN: 1018-8827
Funders: ESRC
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 14 June 2021
Date of Acceptance: 13 June 2021
Last Modified: 03 May 2023 13:59

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