Socioemotional understanding and frequent aggression in people with mild to moderate intellectual disabilities

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Aggression in a proportion of people with intellectual disabilities is often assumed to be due to social-cognitive deficits. We reported on two studies in which we compared the emotion recognition and perspective-taking abilities of 43 frequently aggressive individuals and 46 nonaggressive peers. No difference was found between the groups' ability to label facial affect. The perspective-taking task required participants to distinguish between reactions of angry versus calm characters. Although both groups had similar success with elements of the task, the aggressive group proved better at predicting characters' attributions. Results suggest that deficits in emotion recognition and perspective-taking cannot be assumed to be causal or maintaining factors of frequent aggression. This has implications for assessment and treatment.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)77-89
Number of pages13
JournalAmerican Journal on Mental Retardation
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2006