Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home
  • Get access
    Check if you have access via personal or institutional login
  • Cited by 10
  • Print publication year: 2009
  • Online publication date: July 2009

8 - Emotional Dysregulation and the Development of Serious Misconduct

Summary

Emotional dysregulation is a term that is used when aspects of a person's emotional functioning are ineffective or inappropriate or risk compromising the accomplishment of later developmental tasks (Cicchetti, Ganiban, & Barnett, 1991; Cole, Michel, & Teti, 1994; Garber & Dodge, 1991; Keenan, 2000). The term acknowledges that emotions are always regulated (i.e., there is no pure emotion that is unregulated), but that a pattern of emotion regulation has a dysfunctional quality. Although there has been relatively little research on the emotional profiles of children with serious psychological problems, the key symptoms of most childhood disorders feature emotional difficulties, such as hostile defiance, anxiety, angry aggression, tantrums, moodiness, and irritability (Cole et al., 1994; Keenan, 2000). Without the benefit of emotion theory to guide our understanding of the emotional nature of symptoms, it might seem that strong emotions debilitate behavioral functioning.

Contemporary theories, however, regard emotions as adaptive. Emotions are defined as the processes of both appraising circumstances relative to one's well-being and readying to act on circumstances to maintain or regain well-being (e.g., Arnold, 1960; Barrett & Campos, 1987; Ekman, 1994; Frijda, 1986; Lazarus, 1991). This biologically based rapid radar and response system equips us to deal with the ever-changing nature of circumstances and to act without hesitation when necessary (e.g., fleeing from danger). Therefore, emotions motivate action, evolving as a system that is crucial to survival.

REFERENCES
,American Psychiatric Association. (1994). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (4th edition). Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Association.
Arnold, M. B. (1960). Emotion and personality. New York: Columbia University Press.
Barrett, K. C., & Campos, J. J. (1987). Perspectives on emotional development II: A functionalist approach to emotions. In Osofsky, J. D. (Ed.), Handbook of infant development (2nd ed.; pp. 555–578). Oxford: Wiley.
Bates, J. E., Pettit, G. S., Dodge, K. A., & Ridge, B. (1998). Interaction of temperamental resistance to control and restrictive parenting in the development of externalizing behavior. Developmental Psychology, 34, 982–995.
Bennett, D. S., Sullivan, M. W., & Lewis, M. (2005). Young children's adjustment as a function of maltreatment, shame, and anger. Child Maltreatment, 10, 311–325.
Blair, R. J. R., Budhani, S., Colledge, E., & Scott, S. (2005). Deafness to fear in boys with psychopathic tendencies. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 46, 327–336.
Blair, R. J. R., & Coles, M. (2000). Expression recognition and behavioural problems in early adolescence. Cognitive Development, 15, 421–434.
Blair, R. J. R., Colledge, E., Murray, L., & Mitchell, D. G. V. (2001). A selective impairment in the processing of sad and fearful expressions in children with psychopathic tendencies. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 29, 491–498.
Braaten, E. B., & Rosén, L. A. (2000). Self-regulation of affect in attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and non-ADHD boys: Differences in empathic responding. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 68, 313–321.
Cadesky, E. B., Mota, V. L., & Schachar, R. J. (2000). Beyond words: How do children with ADHD and/or conduct problems process nonverbal information about affect?Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 39(9), 1160–1167.
Calkins, S. D., Dedmon, S. E., Gill, K. L., Lomax, L. E., & Johnson, L. M. (2002). Frustration in infancy: Implications for emotion regulation, physiological processes, and temperament. Infancy, 3, 175–197.
Calkins, S. D., Hungerford, A., & Dedmon, S. E. (2004). Mothers' interactions with temperamentally frustrated infants. Infant Mental Health Journal, 25, 219–239.
Campbell, S. B., Cohn, J. F., & Meyers, T. (1995). Depression in first-time mothers: Mother-infant interaction and depression chronicity. Developmental Psychology, 31, 349–357.
Campos, J. J., Campos, R. G., & Barrett, K. C. (1989). Emergent themes in the study of emotional development and emotion regulation. Developmental Psychology, 25, 394–402.
Casey, R. J. (1996). Emotional competence in children with externalizing and internalizing disorders. In Lewis, M. (Ed.), Emotional development in atypical children (pp. 161–183). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.
Cicchetti, D., Ganiban, J., & Barnett, D. (1991). Contributions from the study of high-risk populations to understanding the development of emotion regulation. In Garber, J. & Dodge, K. A. (Eds.), The development of emotion regulation and dysregulation (pp. 15–48). New York: Cambridge University Press.
Cicchetti, D., & Manly, J. T. (2001). Operationalizing child maltreatment: Developmental processes and outcomes. Development and Psychopathology, 13, 755–757.
Cimbora, D. M., & McIntosh, D. N. (2003). Emotional responses to antisocial acts in adolescent males with conduct disorder: A link to affective morality. Journal of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology, 32(2), 296–301
Cole, P. M. (2003). The developmental course from child effects to child effectiveness. In Crouter, A. C. & Booth, A. (Eds.), Children's influence on family dynamics: The neglected side of family relationships (pp. 109–118). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.
Cole, P. M., Barrett, K. C., & Zahn-Waxler, C. (1992). Emotion displays in two-year-olds during mishaps. Child Development, 63, 314–324.
Cole, P. M., Michel, M. K., & Teti, L. O. (1994). The development of emotion regulation and dysregulation: A clinical perspective. In Fox, N. A. (Ed.), The development of emotion regulation: Biological and behavioral considerations. Monographs of the Society for Research in Child Development, 59 (240, nos. 2–3), 73–100.
Cole, P. M., Teti, L. O., & Zahn-Waxler, C. (2003). Mutual emotion regulation and the stability of conduct problems between preschool and early school age. Development and Psychopathology, 15, 1–18.
Cole, P. M., Zahn-Waxler, C., Fox, N. A., Usher, B. A., & Welsh, J. (1996). Individual differences in emotion regulation and behavior problems in preschool children. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 105, 518–529.
Crick, N. R., & Dodge, K. A. (1996). Social information-processing mechanisms on reactive and proactive aggression. Child Development, 67, 993–1002.
Crittenden, P. M. (1985). Maltreated infants: Vulnerability and resilience. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 26, 85–96.
Cummings, E. M., & Davies, P. T. (1994). Children and marital conflict. New York: Guilford Press.
Cummings, J. S., Pellegrini, D. S., Notarius, C. I., & Cummings, E. M. (1989). Children's responses to angry adult behavior as a function of marital distress and history of interparental hostility. Child Development, 60, 1035–1043.
Cummings, E. M., Simpson, K. S., & Wilson, A. (1993). Children's responses to interadult anger as a function of information about resolution. Developmental Psychology, 29, 978–985.
Cummings, E. M., Vogel, D., Cummings, J. S., & El-Sheikh, M. (1989). Children's responses to different forms of expression of anger between adults. Child Development, 60, 1392–1404.
Dadds, M. R., Fraser, J., Frost, A., & Hawes, D. J. (2005). Disentangling the underlying dimensions of psychopathy and conduct problems in childhood: A community study. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 73, 400–410.
Davies, P. T., & Cummings, E. M. (1994). Marital conflict and child adjustment: An emotional security hypothesis. Psychological Bulletin, 116, 387–411.
Dawson, G., Panagiotides, H., Klinger, L. G., & Spieker, S. (1997). Infants of depressed and nondepressed mothers exhibit differences in frontal brain electrical activity during the expression of negative emotions. Developmental Psychology, 33, 650–656.
Diego, M. A., Field, T., Jones, N. A., Hernandez-Reif, M., Cullen, C., Schanberg, S., & Kuhn, C. (2004). EEG responses to mock facial expressions by infants of depressed mothers. Infant Behavior & Development, 27, 150–16.
Dodge, K. A. (1991). Emotion and social information processing. In Garber, J. & Dodge, K. A. (Eds.), The development of emotion regulation and dysregulation (pp. 159–181). New York: Cambridge University Press.
Dumas, J. E., LaFreniere, P. J., & Serketich, W. J. (1995). “Balance of power”: A transactional analysis of control in mother-child dyads involving socially competent, aggressive, and anxious children. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 104, 104–113.
Durbin, C. E., Klein, D. N., Hayden, E. P., Buckley, M. E., & Moerk, K. C. (2005). Temperamental emotionality in preschoolers and parental mood disorders. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 114, 28–37.
Eaves, R. C., Darch, C., & Williams, T. O. (2004). Attention to novelty, fear-anxiety, and age: Their effects on conduct problems. Journal of Genetic Psychology, 165, 425–449.
Egeland, B., Sroufe, A., & Erickson, M. (1983). The developmental consequence of different patterns of maltreatment. Child Abuse & Neglect, 7, 459–469.
Ekman, P. (1994). The nature of emotion: Fundamental questions. New York: Oxford University Press.
El-Sheikh, M., Ballard, M., & Cummings, E. M. (1994). Individual differences in preschoolers' physiological and verbal responses to videotaped angry interactions. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 22, 303–320.
Fantuzzo, J. W., DePaola, L. M., Lambert, L., Martino, L., Anderson, G., & Sutton, S. (1991). Effects of interparental violence on the psychological adjustment and competencies of young children. Journal of Consulting & Clinical Psychology, 59, 258–265.
Field, T. (1994). Caregiving environments for infants. Children's Environments, 11, 147–154.
Forbes, E. E., Cohn, J. F., Allen, N. B., & Lewinsohn, P. M. (2004). Infant affect during parent-infant interaction at 3 and 6 months: Differences between mothers and fathers and influence of parent history of depression. Infancy, 5, 61–84.
Frick, P. J., Cornell, A. H., Bodin, S. D., Dane, H. E., Barry, C. T., & Loney, B. R. (2003). Callous-unemotional traits and developmental pathways to severe conduct problems. Developmental Psychology, 39, 246–260.
Frick, P. J., Lilienfeld, S. O., Ellis, M., Loney, B., & Silverthorn, P. (1999). The association between anxiety and psychopathy dimensions in children. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 27, 383–392.
Frick, P. J., & Morris, A. S. (2004). Temperament and developmental pathways to conduct problems. Journal of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology, 33, 54–68.
Frijda, N. H. (1986). The emotions: Studies in emotion and social interaction. New York: Cambridge University Press.
Garber, J., & Dodge, K. A. (1991). The development of emotion regulation and dysregulation. New York: Cambridge University Press.
Gilliom, M., & Shaw, D. S. (2004). Codevelopment of externalizing and internalizing problems in early childhood. Development and Psychopathology, 16, 313–333.
Goodman, S. H., & Gotlib, I. H. (1999). Risk for psychopathology in the children of depressed mothers: A developmental model for understanding mechanisms of transmission. Psychological Review, 106, 458–490.
Harmon-Jones, E. (2004). On the relationship of frontal brain activity and anger: Examining the role of attitude toward anger. Cognition and Emotion, 18, 337–361.
Harpur, T. J., & Hare, R. D. (1994). Assessment of psychopathy as a function of age. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 103, 604–609.
Hayden, E. P., Klein, D. N., & Durbin, C. E. (2005). Parent reports and laboratory assessments of child temperament: A comparison of their associations with risk for depression and externalizing disorders. Journal of Psychopathology and Behavioral Assessment, 27, 89–100.
Herpertz, S. C., Mueller, B., Qunaibi, M., Lichterfeld, C., Konrad, K., & Herpertz-Dahlman, B. (2005). Response to emotional stimuli in boys with conduct disorder. American Journal of Psychiatry, 162, 1100–1107.
Hinshaw, S. P., & Anderson, C. A. (1996). Conduct and oppositional defiant disorders. In Mash, E. J. & Barkley, R. A. (Eds.), Child psychopathology (pp. 113–149). New York: Guilford.
Izard, C. E., & Abe, J. A. (2004). Developmental changes in facial expressions of emotions in the Strange Situation during the second year of life. Emotion, 4, 251–265.
Jones, N. A., Field, T., & Davalos, M. (2000). Right frontal EEG asymmetry and lack of empathy in preschool children of depressed mothers. Child Psychiatry & Human Development, 30, 189–204.
Keenan, K. (2000). Emotion dysregulation as a risk factor for child psychopathology. Clinical Psychology: Science and Practice, 7, 418–434.
Keiley, M. K., Lofthouse, N., Bates, J. E., Dodge, K. A., & Pettit, G. S. (2003). Differential risks of covarying and pure components in mother and teacher reports of externalizing and internalizing behavior across ages 5 to 14. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 31, 267–283.
Kochanska, G. (1997). Mutually responsive orientation between mothers and their young children: Implications for early socialization. Child Development, 68, 94–112.
Lazarus, R. S. (1991). Emotion and adaptation. New York: Oxford University Press.
Lemerise, E. A., & Arsenio, W. J. (2000). An integrated model of emotional processes and cognition in social information processing. Child Development, 71, 107–118.
Maughan, A., & Cicchetti, D. (2002). Impact of child maltreatment and interadult violence on children's emotion regulation abilities and socioemotional development. Child Development, 73, 1525–1542.
McCabe, K. M., Lucchini, S. E., Hough, R. L., Yeh, M., & Hazen, A. (2005). The relation between violence exposure and conduct problems among adolescents: A prospective study. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 75, 575–584.
Melnick, S. M., & Hinshaw, S. P. (2000). Emotion regulation and parenting in AD/HD and comparison boys: Linkages with social behaviors and peer preference. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 28, 73–86.
Moffitt, T. E. (1993). Adolescence-limited and life-course-persistent antisocial behavior: A developmental taxonomy. Psychological Review, 100, 674–701.
Moffitt, T. E., & Caspi, A. (2001). Childhood predictors differentiate life-course persistent and adolescent-limited antisocial pathways among males and females. Development and Psychopathology, 13, 355–375.
Moore, G. A., Cohn, J. F., & Campbell, S. B. (2001). Infant affective responses to mother's still face at 6 months differentially predict externalizing and internalizing behaviors at 18 months. Developmental Psychology, 37, 706–714.
Olson, S. L., Bates, J. E., Sandy, J. M., & Schilling, E. M. (2002). Early developmental precursors of impulsive and inattentive behavior: From infancy to middle childhood. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 43, 435–448.
Ornitz, E. M., Gabikian, P., Russell, A. T., Guthrie, D., Hirano, C., & Gehricke, J-G. (1997). Affective valence and arousal in ADHD and normal boys during a startle habituation experiment. Journal of the American Academy of Child Adolescent Psychiatry, 36, 1698–1705.
Orobio de Castro, B., Veerman, J. W., Koops, W., Bosch, J. D., & Monshouwer, H. J. (2002). Hostile attribution of intent and aggressive behavior: A meta-analysis. Child Development, 73, 916–934.
Orobio de Castro, B., Merk, W., Koops, W., Veerman, J. W., & Bosch, J. D. (2005). Emotions in social information processing and their relations with reactive and proactive aggression in referred aggressive boys. Journal of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology, 34, 105–116.
Patrick, C. J. (1994). Emotion and psychopathy: Startling new insights. Psychophysiology, 31, 319–330.
Patterson, G. R. (1982). Coercive family process: A social learning approach, Vol. 3. Eugene, OR: Castalia.
Pollak, S. D., Cicchetti, D., Hornung, K., & Reed, A. (2000). Recognizing emotion in faces: Developmental effects of child abuse and neglect. Developmental Psychology, 36, 679–688.
Pollak, S. D., & Sinha, P. (2002). Effects of early experience on children's recognition of facial displays of emotion. Developmental Psychology, 38, 784–791.
Pollak, S. D., & Tolley-Schell, S. A. (2003). Selective attention to facial emotion in physically abused children. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 112, 323–338.
Pollak, S. D., Vardi, S., Putzer Bechner, A. M., & Curtin, J. J. (2005). Physically abused children's regulation of attention in response to hostility. Child Development, 76, 968–977.
Raine, A. (2002). Biosocial studies of antisocial and violent behavior in children and adults: A review. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 30, 311–326.
Rossman, R. B. B., & Ho, J. (2000). Posttraumatic response and children exposed to parental violence. Journal of Aggression, Maltreatment & Trauma, 3, 85–106.
Sameroff, A. J., & Chandler, M. J. (1975). Reproductive risk and the continuum of caretaking casualty. In Horowitz, F. D., Hetherington, M., & Scarr-Salopatek, S. (Eds.), Review of child development research (Vol. 4, pp. 187–244). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Schultz, D., Izard, C. E., & Ackerman, B. P. (2000). Children's anger attribution bias: Relations to family environment and social adjustment. Social Development, 9, 284–301.
Shaw, D. S., Gilliom, M., Ingoldsby, E. M., & Nagin, D. S. (2003). Trajectories leading to school-age conduct problems. Developmental Psychology, 39, 189–200.
Shaw, D. S., Owens, E. B., Giovannelli, J., & Winslow, E. B. (2001). Infant and toddler pathways leading to early externalizing disorders. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 40, 36–43.
Shields, A., & Cicchetti, D. (1998). Reactive aggression among maltreated children: The contributions of attention and emotion dysregulation. Journal of Clinical Child Psychology, 27, 381–395.
Sterzer, P., Stadler, C., Krebs, A., Kleinschmidt, A., & Poustka, F. (2005). Abnormal neural responses to emotional visual stimuli in adolescents with conduct disorder. Biological Psychiatry, 57, 7–15.
Stevens, D., Charman, T., & Blair, R. J. R. (2001). Recognition of emotion in facial expressions and vocal tones in children with psychopathic tendencies. Journal of Genetic Psychology, 162, 201–211.
Wakschlag, L. S., & Keenan, K. (2001). Clinical significance and correlates of disruptive behavior in environmentally at-risk preschoolers. Journal of Clinical Child Psychology, 30, 262–275.
Waldinger, R. J., Toth, S. L., & Gerber, A. (2001). Maltreatment and internal representations of relationships: Core relationship themes in the narratives of abused and neglected preschoolers. Social Development, 10, 41–58.
Waschbusch, D. A., Pelham, W. E., Jennings, J. R., Greiner, A. R., Tarter, R. E., & Moss, H. B. (2002). Reactive aggression in boys with disruptive behavior disorders: Behavior, physiology, and affect. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 30, 641–656.
Whalen, C. K., Jamner, L. D., Henker, B., Delfino, R. J., & Lozano, J. M. (2002). The ADHD spectrum and everyday life: Experience sampling of adolescent moods, activities, smoking, and drinking. Child Development, 73, 209–227.
Zahn-Waxler, C., Cole, P. M., Welsh, J. D., & Fox, N. A. (1995). Psychophysiological correlates of empathy and prosocial behaviors in preschool children with behavior problems. Development and Psychopathology, 7, 27–48.