The reaction of adolescent offenders and nonoffenders to nonverbal emotion displays

J Abnorm Child Psychol. 1978 Mar;6(1):89-96. doi: 10.1007/BF00915784.


Adolescent male offenders and nonoffenders were compared on two tasks designed to assess reactions to the nonverbal emotion expressions of others. It was found that the offender group was less accurate in labeling another's emotion states but that this difference was apparently a function of verbal intelligence. Further, the results of the second task, a task not related to verbal intelligence, indicated that the punitive decisions of both the offender and nonoffender groups were similarly affected by the actors' nonverbal emotions. These results wree discussed as indicating that much of the social insensitivity often ascribed to delinquents may simply be a result of impoverished verbal skills among this group. A deficit in verbal skills may preclude delinquents from adequately describing their perceptions of the emotional reactions of others and it may also necessitate a nonverbal, rather than verbal, reaction to others' emotions.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Antisocial Personality Disorder / psychology
  • Emotions*
  • Humans
  • Intelligence
  • Interpersonal Relations
  • Juvenile Delinquency*
  • Male
  • Nonverbal Communication*
  • Social Perception
  • Verbal Behavior
  • Videotape Recording