Ew gross! Recognition of expressions of disgust by children with obsessive-compulsive disorder

Jennifer L. Allen*, Maree J. Abbott, Ronald M. Rapee, Max Coltheart

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    9 Citations (Scopus)


    There is evidence suggesting that obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) in adults may be associated with an impaired ability to recognise the facial expression of disgust (Sprengelmeyer et al., 1997a; Woody, Corcoran, & Tolin, in press). It has been suggested that this impairment begins in childhood when the recognition of emotional expressions is being learnt (see Spengelmeyer et al., 1997a). This study compared the recognition of facial affect in children aged around 11 years with a diagnosis of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD; n = 11), other anxiety disorders (n = 20), and nonclinical children (n = 19), adapting the methodology of Sprengelmeyer et al. Disgust was most commonly misclassified as anger by children in all three groups. However, children with OCD did not show any evidence of a recognition deficit for disgust in comparison to either control group. Unexpectedly, however, children with OCD recognised expressions of surprise more accurately than nonclinical children. Recognition of disgust or any other emotion was not related to child self-reported anxiety symptoms. Given the observed differences in some studies with adults, future research may benefit by examining older adolescents and young adults to determine when these effects may first be noticed.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)239-249
    Number of pages11
    JournalBehaviour Change
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - 2006


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