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Executive Attention and Empathy-Related Responses in Boys with Oppositional Defiant Disorder or Conduct Disorder, With and Without Comorbid Anxiety Disorder

By Jarla Pijper, Minet De Wied, Sophie Van Rijn, Stephanie Van Goozen, Hanna Swaab and Wim Meeus


This is a first study that investigated the relationships between executive attention—as an important aspect of emotion regulation—and state empathy and sympathy in ODD/CD boys with (N = 31) and without (N = 18) comorbid anxiety disorder (7–12 years). Empathic reactions were evoked using three sadness-inducing film clips. One clip was highly evocative involving a bear cub losing his mother, whilst two other clips were mildly evocative involving children in common childhood situations. Self-reports of empathy and sympathy were collected and executive attention was assessed with a performance task. Poor executive attention skills were associated with less empathy and sympathy, particularly in ODD/CD boys with anxiety and under conditions of a highly evocative stimulus. Our findings support the view that different mechanisms may be involved in empathy problems of ODD/CD children

Topics: Empathy, Sympathy, Oppositional defiant disorder, Conduct disorder, Emotion regulation, Executive attention
Year: 2018
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Provided by: NARCIS
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