State and Trait Emotions in Delinquent Adolescents

Medizinische Universität Wien, Universitätsklinik für Neuropsychiatrie des Kindes und Jugendalters, Währinger Gürtel 18-20, 1090 Vienna, Austria.
Child Psychiatry and Human Development (Impact Factor: 1.93). 09/2007; 38(2):155-69. DOI: 10.1007/s10578-007-0050-0
Source: PubMed


To examine the structure of emotions and affective dysregulation in juvenile delinquents.
Fifty-six juvenile delinquents from a local juvenile hall and 169 subjects from a local high school were recruited for this study. All participants completed psychometric testing for trait emotions followed by measurements of state emotions under two conditions (free association and stress condition). Finally, delinquent participants completed a detailed assessment of past trauma using the Childhood Trauma Interview (CTI).
Delinquents exhibit significantly higher levels of negative state and trait emotions when compared to a high school sample. In the delinquent sample chronicity of physical trauma affects the longstanding variable of trait emotionality and severity of trauma, specifically emotional abuse and witnessing violence, shapes negative emotional outcomes in state emotionality. In addition, delinquents appear to experience a wider range of emotions than the comparison sample and were more likely to experience a confluence of state emotions of sadness and anger under stressed conditions.
Adolescent delinquents appear to have a different experience of negative emotions than comparison adolescents. The experience of emotions appears to differ in state and trait conditions. These emotions may be related to childhood experiences of trauma.

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    • "Regarding externalizing problems, results of studies that have included indices of positive emotions are mixed: no differences in the display of happiness between aggressive and non-aggressive youth (Orobio de Castro et al. 2005), lower state but not trait happiness in delinquent youth than a comparison group (Plattner et al. 2007), and higher happiness in response to antisocial acts in adolescent males with conduct disorder have all been reported (Cimbora and McIntosh 2003). We hypothesize that, in addition to high levels of negative emotions, low levels of positive emotions are related to increased levels of anxiety, depression, and aggressive behavior. "
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    Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology 07/2011; 39(5):657-69. DOI:10.1007/s10802-011-9509-3 · 3.09 Impact Factor
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    • "Damage to the basic threat circuits in the relevant frontal lobe regions has been shown to increase the risk of RADI aggression in children [53] and adults [54]. In a recent study of conduct disordered youth with an extensive history of trauma, our research group found that these youth often conflated the experiences of sadness, fear and anger [55]. This lack of ability to differentiate these emotional states goes to the heart of the functionality threat response system and may explain why these youth express higher levels of RADI aggression when functioning under moderate levels of duress. "
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    • "The purpose of this study is to examine whether anger, identification with the " gang member " peer group, and the interaction of these two variables are associated with heavy alcohol use among a sample of juvenile offenders. Juvenile offenders, regardless of the crime committed, have higher levels of anger (Plattner et al., 2007; Ruchkin & Eisemann, 2000). Anger is associated with adolescent alcohol use in the general population (Swaim, Deffenbacher, & Wayman, 2004; Terrell, Miller, Foster, & Watkins, 2006; Weiner, Pentz, Turner, & Dwyer, 2001); however this link has not been clearly established among juvenile offenders. "
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