Background: The identification of facial emotional expressions is a crucial component of social and emotional development. Although recent studies indicate that terrorism induced trauma has a negative impact on child psychological functioning, no previous studies have ever investigated the effects of terrorism on children’s face emotion processing. This study reports pilot information on free labeling of facial expressions of emotions in a group of severely traumatized children surviving the terrorist attack in Beslan 3 months after their school siege. These children were compared with a group of non exposed children matched by age and gender. Method: Participants were 66 children with a mean age of 9.85 years (SD=1.33) who were either exposed or not exposed to the terrorist attack in Beslan, Russia. All children surviving the terrorist attack reported symptoms of post traumatic stress, whereas non-exposed children did not. Children were tested on free labeling of 10 facial expression stimuli representing happiness, sadness, anger, disgust, fear and surprise. All responses were judged by two raters on valence and specific emotion category. Uninterpretable or nonsensical responses were labeled as “non responses”. Results: Children of both groups equally recognized both the positive valence and the correct specific category of happiness. However, significant differences were found in responses to negative emotions stimuli. When considering the valence (positive versus negative) of the emotion expressed by the face stimuli, terrorism exposed children more frequently attributed a negative valence to anger, whereas non exposed children more frequently attributed a negative valence to fear. When considering the correct specific category of the face stimuli, exposed children produced a significantly lower proportion of fear specific labels when needed, suggesting that they were less accurate in recognizing fear compared to non exposed children. The qualitative analysis of the “non responses” category revealed the presence of other labels that significantly differed between the two groups. For example, terrorism exposed children frequently mentioned suspect (e.g., “she does not trust someone”) and offence, whereas not exposed children often described face stimuli as thoughtful (e.g., “she is thinking what to do next”) or concentrated. Conclusions: These results suggest that terrorism and PTSD may impact on children’s perception of facial expression of negative emotions. Findings are discussed in terms of their implications for child development; clinical suggestions are given for working with children surviving terrorism.

Free labeling of facial expressions of emotions in children surviving the terrorist attack in Beslan's school.

SCRIMIN, SARA;MOSCARDINO, UGHETTA MICAELA MARIA;AXIA, GIOVANNA
2008

Abstract

Background: The identification of facial emotional expressions is a crucial component of social and emotional development. Although recent studies indicate that terrorism induced trauma has a negative impact on child psychological functioning, no previous studies have ever investigated the effects of terrorism on children’s face emotion processing. This study reports pilot information on free labeling of facial expressions of emotions in a group of severely traumatized children surviving the terrorist attack in Beslan 3 months after their school siege. These children were compared with a group of non exposed children matched by age and gender. Method: Participants were 66 children with a mean age of 9.85 years (SD=1.33) who were either exposed or not exposed to the terrorist attack in Beslan, Russia. All children surviving the terrorist attack reported symptoms of post traumatic stress, whereas non-exposed children did not. Children were tested on free labeling of 10 facial expression stimuli representing happiness, sadness, anger, disgust, fear and surprise. All responses were judged by two raters on valence and specific emotion category. Uninterpretable or nonsensical responses were labeled as “non responses”. Results: Children of both groups equally recognized both the positive valence and the correct specific category of happiness. However, significant differences were found in responses to negative emotions stimuli. When considering the valence (positive versus negative) of the emotion expressed by the face stimuli, terrorism exposed children more frequently attributed a negative valence to anger, whereas non exposed children more frequently attributed a negative valence to fear. When considering the correct specific category of the face stimuli, exposed children produced a significantly lower proportion of fear specific labels when needed, suggesting that they were less accurate in recognizing fear compared to non exposed children. The qualitative analysis of the “non responses” category revealed the presence of other labels that significantly differed between the two groups. For example, terrorism exposed children frequently mentioned suspect (e.g., “she does not trust someone”) and offence, whereas not exposed children often described face stimuli as thoughtful (e.g., “she is thinking what to do next”) or concentrated. Conclusions: These results suggest that terrorism and PTSD may impact on children’s perception of facial expression of negative emotions. Findings are discussed in terms of their implications for child development; clinical suggestions are given for working with children surviving terrorism.
Global terrorism issues and developments
9781600219306
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11577/2271298
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