Facial affect processing in incarcerated violent males: A systematic review

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Colleges, School and Institutes

External organisations

  • University of Liverpool


Previous reviews exploring facial affect processing among forensic samples have focused on the presence of psychopathy and/or have not distinguished on the basis of offence type. In order to develop understandings about etiological processes implicated in different types of antisocial behavior, the principle aim of this review was to systematically explore facial affect processing in incarcerated violent offenders, relative to other non-violent offenders, sexual offenders, and non-offenders. Following a systematic search of electronic databases and subsequent manual search, eight studies were assessed as meeting inclusion criteria, of which seven obtained a quality score deemed acceptable for review. These studies examined recognition accuracy, sensitivity and response bias for seven emotion categories (including neutral) in incarcerated male offenders with a history of violence. Findings supported the presence of generally impaired facial affect processing among violent offenders, including deficits in fear, anger, and disgust. Overall the findings of the review did not support the presence of a hostile attribution bias among violent offenders. The review also highlights differences in sample composition, stimuli, and study designs in emotion recognition research. Recommendations are made for future work on facial affect processing in clinically relevant groups.


Original languageEnglish
JournalAggression and Violent Behavior
Early online date19 Oct 2017
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 19 Oct 2017


  • facial affect processing , emotion , expression , violent , offenders