Investigating Emotional Body Posture Recognition in Adolescents with Conduct Disorder Using Eye-Tracking Methods

Nayra A. Martin-Key, Erich W. Graf, Wendy J. Adams, Graeme Fairchild

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (SciVal)


Adolescents with Conduct Disorder (CD) show deficits in recognizing facial expressions of emotion, but it is not known whether these difficulties extend to other social cues, such as emotional body postures. Moreover, in the absence of eye-tracking data, it is not known whether such deficits, if present, are due to a failure to attend to emotionally informative regions of the body. Male and female adolescents with CD and varying levels of callous-unemotional (CU) traits (n = 45) and age- and sex-matched typically-developing controls (n = 51) categorized static and dynamic emotional body postures. The emotion categorization task was paired with eye-tracking methods to investigate relationships between fixation behavior and recognition performance. Having CD was associated with impaired recognition of static and dynamic body postures and atypical fixation behavior. Furthermore, males were less likely to fixate emotionally-informative regions of the body than females. While we found no effects of CU traits on body posture recognition, the effects of CU traits on fixation behavior varied according to CD status and sex, with CD males with lower levels of CU traits showing the most atypical fixation behavior. Critically, atypical fixation behavior did not explain the body posture recognition deficits observed in CD. Our findings suggest that CD-related impairments in recognition of body postures of emotion are not due to attentional issues. Training programmes designed to ameliorate the emotion recognition difficulties associated with CD may need to incorporate a body posture component.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)849-860
Number of pages12
JournalResearch on Child and Adolescent Psychopathology
Issue number7
Early online date20 Feb 2021
Publication statusPublished - 31 Jul 2021


  • Body posture
  • Callous-unemotional traits
  • Conduct disorder
  • Emotion recognition
  • Eye tracking

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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