Facial Emotion Recognition and Empathy in Employees at a Juvenile Detention Center [2017]

Numerous studies have shown that emotion recognition is impaired in individuals with a history of violent offenses, especially in those diagnosed with psychopathy. However, in criminological contexts, there is insufficient research regarding the role of empathy and facial emotion recognition abilities of personnel employed in correction centers. Accordingly, we sought to explore facial emotion recognition abilities and empathy in administrative officers and security guards at a center for institutionalized juvenile offenders. One hundred twenty-two Mexican subjects, including both men and women, were recruited for the study. Sixty-three subjects were administrative officers, and 59 subjects were security guards at a juvenile detention center. Tasks included “Pictures of Facial Affect” and the “Cambridge Behavior Scale.” The results showed that group and gender had an independent effect on emotion recognition abilities, with no significant interaction between the two variables. Specifically, administrative officers showed higher empathy than security guards. Moreover, women in general exhibited more empathy than men. This study provides initial evidence of the need to study emotion recognition and empathy among professionals working in forensic settings or criminological contexts.

Luz Anyela Morales Quintero, Jairo Muñoz-Delgado, José Carlos Sánchez-Ferrer, Ana Fresán, Martin Brüne, Iván Arango de Montis
International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology, Vol 62, Issue 8, 2018